Smart Alliance


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How a Global Corporation and Environmental Activists Transformed a Tarnished Brand

J. Gary Taylor and Patricia J. Scharlin

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A profit-driven multinational corporation and an upstart group of environmentalists surprise the world and forge an astonishingly successful partnership

Large and wealthy global companies too often fail to acknowledge environmental responsibility or workers’ rights. This book tells the dramatic story of one company—Chiquita Brands International—that decided to change the negative paradigm. Formerly the notorious United Fruit Company, a paternalistic organization that gave the name “Banana Republic” to tropical countries in Central America, Chiquita defied all expectations in the mid-1990s by forming an innovative pact with the Rainforest Alliance that transformed not only the corporation itself but also an important segment of the banana industry.

Gary Taylor and Patricia Scharlin reveal the inside story of how corporate executives, banana workers, local leaders, and conservation advocates learned to work together and trust one another. Over the objections of skeptical critics, Chiquita and the Rainforest Alliance established a Better Banana “seal of approval” to certify genuine efforts to improve soil and water quality, ensure rainforest conservation, and enhance worker health and safety. This chronicle of their collaboration, told objectively and with extensive documentation, presents a promising new model of cooperative behavior--a model that shows how multinational companies can become motivated to solve critical global problems.

J. Gary Taylor is president and Patricia J. Scharlin is vice president of The Environment Group, New York City.

for more information go to the authors website at

"This remarkable story of mindsets transformed demolishes the myths that corporate profits must necessarily exploit people or nature or that environmental and social concerns are always bad for business. Here is a striking model for how corporations and civil society can evolve new kinds of partnership for the benefit of all."—Ashok Khosla, President, Development Alternatives

“One of the fairest treatments of environmental and trade issues yet written. Since the Rio conference (1992), we have been challenged to see the synergies between economics and environmental protection, and this study is among the best.”—Jonathan Plaut, Science, Technology, and Society Program, The Pennsylvania State University, and former chair, NAFTA CEC

"In this time of heightened concern for our national resources and precious environment, Smart Alliance is an especially important book that tells a story we all need to hear. In mesmerizing detail, the authors track the vision and accomplishment that led to the transformation of Chiquita Brands into a socially and environmentally responsible leader in international trade. Bravo for Taylor and Scharlin!"—Judy Collins, singer, songwriter, author, and activist

"This hopeful book authoritatively documents how a potent combination of NGO inventiveness, corporate resolve and tough customers can make a huge difference in the urgent global campaign to preserve biological diversity."—The Honorable Timothy E. Wirth, President, The United Nations Foundation

“A painstaking report from three continents of a certified miracle—the social and environmental redemption of a corporate sinner.”—William D’Alessandro, former editor, Business and Environment newsletter

“This book gets out important information in a timely fashion while the field is still being developed. Folks in both the green and corporate worlds should read it.”—William R. Burch, Jr., Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Smart Alliance is more than fascinating history; it is a compelling case study of collaborative success between environmentalists and a global corporation, and points to a more hopeful future.”—Dan Porras, Audubon (Editor’s Choice)

“This book should certainly be high on the list for reading by the practicing manager.”—Larry L. McKee, Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

"For corporations, their analysis offers a valuable roadmap and how-to manual on corporate transformation and strategic alliances with non-government organizations."—Richard MacLean, Manager’s Notebook

ISBN: 9780300102338
Publication Date: March 11, 2004
304 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
46 b/w illus.
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