From corporate social responsibility initiatives to the adoption of domestic partner benefits in large firms, there is mounting evidence of the impact of activism on corporate behavior. This study advances the understanding of these outside challenges by identifying the multiple and context-dependent ways that movements matter for corporate change. Drawing from data on wide-ranging “corporate campaigns” waged by social movement organizations against corporate targets in the 1990s and early 2000s, our Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) of corporate change outcomes support political and market mediation approaches to anti-corporate activism. Far-reaching protest efforts benefited activists when targeting highly visible firms and when coupled with supportive state action or significant media scrutiny. The findings also reveal multiple pathways to both social movement successes and more firm-friendly outcomes, underscoring the need to consider the diverse response options of firms in the face of protest.

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