Lessons from the Campaign against Elsevier “We won, but how did we win?”

  • Tom Stafford Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield
Keywords: arms exhibitions, campaign, corporations, academia, medical networks, Elsevier

Abstract

Reed Elsevier withdrew their involvement in the arms exhibitions business due to a campaign by academics and medics between 2005 and 2007. This article reviews the history and strategy of the campaign from my perspective as an academic and someone who was involved in the campaign from the beginning. I identify factors which may have influenced decision makers at Reed Elsevier, situational factors which assisted the campaign, and strategic choices made by the campaigners. I suggest that this last category may offer some general lessons for successful campaigning against corporations. Specifically these were, first, having a persistent core of individuals and groups who actively pursued the campaign; second, taking advantage of the strong interconnections within and between academic and medical networks; third, that the global reach of Elsevier created a global and diverse community of stakeholders who could lay claim to an interest in the corporation's actions. I conclude optimistically by affirming the value of small victories against corporations.
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