Wednesday’s discussion on the changing nature of Sustainability Marketing and the increased importance of a wide variety of actors I was reminded very much of discussions I have had in some of my courses in political science regarding the influence the public and NGO’s can have on state action. These discussions often reflected many of the issues and complexities that our class has worked through in the ways to influence companies to create change.
One of the first issues that I found to exist in both context was the issue of disconnect between what an organization or government claims to do and what is really done. The issue of symbolic or marginal changes being made to appease without making real change is a real issue for those involved in creating real meaningful change. In the context of our course this issue often took on the term of Green Washing. In the political science context it was argued that an informed, democratic society could overcome this type of “political greenwashing.” From this conclusion it may be argued that an informed consumer who is willing to “vote” with his/her money should be able to affect real and lasting change.
The interconnectedness of society that the internet provides is another area that has implications for both politics and business. The diffusion of information to a wide audience at limited costs lead to the ability for society to mobilize and get behind issues. This has been represented as a clear avenue for change in both political and business senses. Related to this the fact that both governments and businesses have to be responsive to an ever growing number of different people and groups. The fact that millions of people seeking change in areas such as Egypt were able to connect with each other, share experiences and organize protests have massively changed the ways in which a state must interact with its citizenry. The true can be said about industry and business. Previously marginalized members of the process, such as a cocoa producer in the Congo or factory worker in China are increasingly given a voice through the internet.
Upon reflecting on the similarities between politics and business with regards to how change can occur, I am drawn to conclude on how similar these two fields can be. From this I am reminded of the definition of politics put forward by one of my professors: Politics is the study of associations; the ways in which we organize and interact. I recognize this is extremely broad and as someone who is pre-disposed to view things politically maybe a little self-serving. However having said this, I think it does benefit us to be able to take positive practices from one area and apply them elsewhere.