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Lobbying in the shadows? Forget it

Organizations of all shapes and sizes operate in a social environment that literally and figuratively looks inward at them. This social environment requires organizations to be accountable and take responsibility. We pay ample attention to this phenomenon in our book. The title of the book is not without reason Public affairs in a social perspective. The interaction between the organization and the environment is becoming increasingly important for the work of the public affairs professional.

One of the changes in politics, the economy and the social environment is that trust in the actions of organizations has become more conditional. The social credit of public and private organizations is vulnerable. At the same time, the call for transparency and accountability is growing louder.

High expectations

Organizations are not only regulated by laws, they are also watched by an increasingly vocal public. The broad critical attention was first focused on the subject of the environment and later on a wide range of topics. The public has higher expectations of the actions of companies, but also of governments and non-governmental organizations. At the same time, confidence in these established organizations is decreasing.


Within the general public, alert citizen groups or grassroots organizations are active that develop initiatives themselves or oppose proposed decisions or the implementation of policy. Being single issue groups, in addition to the broader movement that is increasingly emerging from beneath the social surface, about issues about which outrage arises in social media.

In the genes

As organizations focus more and more on society, they give up some of their own decision-making autonomy. But there are also opportunities to position yourself. Sometimes this arises from intrinsic motivation of the management or employees of the organization. Sometimes it is responding to a social movement, because it can provide commercial benefits for the organization.

That social responsibility and accountability are increasing good practice does not mean that all companies and parts of the government are 'over' and have this in the genes of their organization. Where in the past public affairs and lobbying often seemed to take place outside the public domain, this is now increasingly less tenable. Organizations and professionals in public affairs can no longer afford to think that they can continue to work in the shadow of the debate.

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