Scholars generally characterize activist organizations as pursuing either “reformist” or “radical” agendas and using either collaborative or confrontational strategies to engage with firms. This paradigm oversimplifies the behavior of these organizations and ignores the possibility that they may pursue hybrid approaches that combine a range of strategies.
Published earlier this year in Sustainable Management of Luxury (Springer), This chapter, “Promoting Sustainable Management: World Wildlife Fund’s Hybrid Strategy to Change the Luxury Industry,” explores how the nonprofit WWF used such an approach to engage the luxury industry in its 2007 Deeper Luxury report. The chapter analyzes the report’s descriptive and injunctive normative statements that positively engage the industry and its controversial rating system that directly confronts the top ten luxury firms. The chapter also examines the sustainability-related documents of the ten rated companies, and finds that their responses to WWF’s normative demands varied significantly, with L)’Oreal, LVMH, and PPR demonstrating the greatest responsiveness. It concludes that this hybrid approach had mixed results in promoting sustainable management within the luxury industry, and may require collaboration among organizations with different skills and reputations.
The luxury industry has received less attention in the sustainability literature than it deserves, so I am glad that Miguel Gardetti has pulled together such a great collection of papers in this book and that my chapter has been included among them.