Exploring the Boundaries of Rightful Resistance Through The Urgenda Court Case

By Dieneke de Weerd

O’Brien defines rightful resistance as a peaceful form of protest in which citizens use laws, policies and other officially promoted values in innovative ways in order to demand rights offered at the center. This blog post demonstrates the limits of the applicability of the concept rightful resistance by looking at the Urgenda case.  

Rightful resistance relies upon support from the public. In the Urgenda case Urgenda filed the case against the state together with 886 individuals to demand more climate action to be taken. Furthermore, the resistance was peaceful as they used official means to make the state accountable for their actions. During the court case Urgenda mainly focused upon human rights and the duty of care that the Dutch State adheres to. Thus, Urgenda used existing laws in innovative way to hold Dutch government accountable.

Even though the Urgenda court case resembles rightful resistance the boundaries of this concept cannot be stretched this far, as some essential elements are missing. Firstly, the Urgenda case did not locate and exploit divisions within the state. Secondly, the Urgenda foundation can be seen as a form of sustained resistance rather than episodic resistance. Lastly, while O’Brien does not explicitly exclude rightful resistance in form of court cases, his examples suggest that rightful resistance does not include court cases. It seems that the concept refers to resistance where there are protective mechanisms for the rightful resister but where there is no direct accountability, such as an effective judicial system, in place yet.  

At first the concept rightful resistance seems to fit most cases where the public holds the government accountable for their actions with peaceful means and through the usage of existing laws and values. However, the Urgenda case demonstrates that the term rightful resistance has stricter boundaries and actually has limited applicability 


The importance of sequencing and self-reinforcing processes to understand success of Bill Gates with Microsoft

By Dieneke de Weerd

Chapter two of Pierson's book explains the importance of sequencing to understand today’s outcomes. This blog post argues that Bill Gates’ success with the development of Microsoft depended largely upon the particular event sequence prior to 1975 and is thus an example of the first-mover advantage.

Gladwell demonstrates that opportunities presented to Gates at an early age drastically impacted his ability consolidate his position within computer software industry. The three most important events resulting in this particular outcome are: early access to computer, opportunity to have learning hours, and the introduction of personal computers in 1975. Mahoney's event sequence applies here as alterations in temporal ordering of these three events could have produced drastically different outcomes. Especially differences in timing of personal computers could have made Gates too inexperienced or already caught up with another job to utilize competitive advantages of first mover.

Gates’ ability to become successful is related the self-reinforcing character of his first mover advantage. The first mover in a new market has advantage over its actual or potential rivals to capture market shares. Self-reinforcing processes indicate the growing benefits of this specific advantage. As first mover Microsoft could easily capture large market shares and stay ahead of rivals. By 1975, Gates had been programming for seven years, which gave him extraordinary experience and knowledge. This made set-up costs for rivals entering the market extremely high, as rivals could not easily catch up with Gates’ amount of learning hours. After the consolidation of Microsoft other self-reinforcing processes, such as learning effect and coordination effect, stimulated enduring superiority of Microsoft.

In conclusion, the exact event sequence prior to 1975 enabled Gates to be flexible and experienced enough to utilize his first-mover advantage. Gates could become the pioneer and remain successful because of the self-reinforcing processes linked to his first mover advantage.