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   Good Cop, Bad Cop
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
12 Jun 2010

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The Good, the Bad and the….

Contested existence notwithstanding, the overwhelming presence of businesses and the inevitable existence of non-governmental organizations have made dramatic inroads into our lives. Love them or hate them, both are here to stay in the pursuit of meeting their ambitious goals. Often working at cross purposes to each other, there exists an opportunity for businesses and NGOs to galvanize collective action for resolving environmental issues around the world though.

Good Cop Bad Cop is a splendid attempt that weaves multi-disciplinary insights for mapping areas for NGOs to engage with businesses. With contributions from sociologists, political scientists and economists, Thomas P. Lyon concludes that it is for the NGOs to understand whether they can effectively play either or both the role of a good cop (corporate partner) and bad cop (corporate critic). This typecast may, however, be discomforting for the NGOs.

It is easy to typecast NGOs because there is little systematic evidence that environmental NGOs are consistently effective. In fact, the authors have used aquatic mammals to categorize an incredible diversity of NGOs and NGO-like activity. Sea lion, Orca, Shark and Dolphin have been identified to reflect the nature of the NGOs. Sea lions are deemed to be very conscious of their funding sources and very unlikely to act contrary to the interests of their funders.

In contrast, sharks symbolize a considerable number of groups within the broader anti-globalization movement who consider violence legitimate against a broad range of targets. On the other hand, orcas carefully select their targets but can be unpredictable and at times confrontational. Dolphins are adaptive, willing to negotiate with businesses to encourage them to change their environmental stands. Will such characterization ease in building collaborations?

Contributors to the volume admit that there are numerous theories that deal with the behavior of economic agents, but none explains NGOs because they are often outside the logic of profitability and traditional politics. The growing recognition that environmental NGOs have moved from the fringes of power to the inside and are now able to exert more influence than ever before has led researchers to develop an understanding on their growing sphere of influence.

Good Cop Bad Cop makes a valuable and timely contribution to the emerging domain of private politics - in which private citizens and institutions aim at changing legislative practices and culture without being part of the electoral process. Using case studies of selected international NGOs, the book takes a critical look at their internal dynamics in making a case for emerging cooperation between NGOs and business for environmental change.

Good Cop Bad Cop: Environmental NGOs and their Strategies toward Business
by Thomas P Lyon (Ed) RFF Press, Washington/London, 282 pages, US$ 39.95.

 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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