|company: Corporate Watch |
product: research and consultancy services about corporations
distribution: worldwide via Internet
what: Corporate Watch is a small independent not-for-profit research and publishing group which conducts research on the social and environmental impact of large corporations, particularly multinationals. Corporate Watch is part of the growing anti-corporate movement springing up around the world. It aims to expose the mechanisms by which corporations function and the detrimental effects they have on society and the environment as an inevitable result of their current legal structure.
From its beginnings, Corporate Watch has expanded to examine the oil industry, globalisation, genetic engineering, food, toxic chemicals, privatisation and many other areas, painting a picture of almost every type of corporate crime and the nature and mechanisms of corporate power, both economic and political.
why: “In the conventional economic view corporations are simply neutral providers of the goods and services that people want. They exist to serve society’s needs (and make a tidy profit in the process). This view dismisses corporate crimes as mere accidents, at worst errors of judgement, which will ultimately be corrected, since market forces have everyone’s best interests at heart.
There is another view – increasingly developed by alternative media, the more courageous radical thinkers and grassroots groups around the world. In this view, corporations have gained a power out of all proportion to their original purpose. The rights of corporations – disguised as ‘encouraging foreign investment’, ‘promoting free trade’, ‘protecting the national interest’ now take precedence over human rights, community interests, and the interests of the planet itself. Corporate Watch is part of the growing anti-corporate movement springing up around the world.” [from the Corporate Watch website]
aim: Corporate Watch strives for a society that is ecologically sustainable, democratic, equitable and non-exploitative. Progress towards such a society may, in part, be achieved through dismantling the vast economic and political power of corporations and developing ecologically and socially just alternatives to the present economic system.
activities: towards these ends, the organisation:
the DIY Guide: become a corporate watcher!
- conducts research and analysis, raises awareness and contributes to public debate and education;
- aims to empower community groups that are concerned with economic developments and corporate interests that threaten their communities' quality of life;
- supports the work of public interest and educational groups.
“If you're campaigning against a company, the success or failure of your campaign will crucially depend on the information at your disposal. Whether you want to visit the company's office, target its directors or shareholders, or produce hard-hitting leaflets or reports, you will need to know your way around a few basic resources.”
This is the premise with which Corporate Watch introduces its on-line guide for all those who are interested in starting a campaign or simply knowing more about a corporation’s code of conduct. And further on: “This basic guide on how to research a company is an attempt to break down the mystique surrounding research. Anyone can find out about a company, with just a little time and imagination. And it's extremely satisfying to feel you've stitched up a company just by getting to know it better”. [download: www.corporatewatch.org.uk/publications/researchguide.pdf]
The guide relates to researching UK companies. The directories, media and libraries are all British. However, some of the techniques may be transferable to other countries, and of course the web is international. The guide begins with some basic tips on how to research, then details some of the different types of information sources available (NGOs, the web, the media, industry sources, government sources, interviews). And if you’re interested in looking into a company's wrongdoings, you have to see the 'Digging the Dirt' section.