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General Management Department's Lecture

Topic:      The Paradox of Responsive Authoritarianism: Civic Activism, Local Governments and Environmental Penalties in China

Speaker: Christopher Marquis (The Samuel C. Johnson Professor in Sustainable Global Enterprise and Professor of Management at Cornell University)

Time:       12:00,Nov.9 2017

Place:      Room1007,Mingde Bussiness Building


We examine the efficacy of civic activism and its interplay with local governments and the media on spurring governmental action concerning the environmental performance of firms in China. The perspective we develop shows how coercive institutional change processes in liberalizing authoritarian contexts are characterized by a paradox of responsive authoritarianism. While the government tolerates pressures for change on the one hand, it resists associated legitimacy threats on the other. As a result, the local government and the media play a dual role: they mitigate change pressures from within-the-system civic activism that are not visible to the public, but magnify change pressures from publically visible outside-the-system civic activism. We test our conceptual model using a unique dataset of environmental penalties of Chinese publicly listed firms from 2007 to 2011.We discuss how our findings contribute to understanding processes of institutional change and outcomes of social movements


Chris Marquis is a Visiting Professor of Social Innovation and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is also the Samuel C. Johnson Professor in Sustainable Global Enterprise and Professor of Management at Cornell University and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Peking University and Shanghai Jiaotong University. Prior to joining Cornell, he worked for 10 years at Harvard Business School. He received a PhD in Sociology and Business Administration from the University of Michigan. Before his academic career, Marquis worked for 6 years in the financial services industry, most recently as Vice President and Technology Manager for a business unit of J.P. Morgan Chase.

Professor Marquis’ teaching and research is focused on how business can have a positive impact on society and the natural environment. He is currently pursuing several streams of research. The first seeks to assess how firms’ and entrepreneurs’ social and environmental strategies and activities can be designed to maximize both business and social value. The second explores how corporate shared value initiatives and nonprofits have developed in China. Finally, the third examines institutional change processes in emerging markets.