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Greener and cleaner? The signaling accuracy of U.S. voluntary environmental programs

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  • Nicole Darnall

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  • Joann Carmin

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    Abstract

    Voluntary environmental programs (VEPs) have become a popular alternative to traditional regulation. However, little is known about whether these programs are sending accurate signals about the environmental practices of their participants. As a means for understanding signaling accuracy, this research investigates VEP design characteristics. The findings suggest that there are four distinct types of programs with varying degrees of rigor. Because information for differentiating among program types is limited, less rigorous VEPs can signal that their administrative, environmental performance and conformance requirements are comparable to programs with more robust designs. Further, the lack of monitoring and sanctions in less rigorous programs create opportunities for participants to free-ride and receive benefits without satisfying VEP requirements. Unless some means of distinguishing among program types is implemented, these issues can threaten the long term viability of VEPs as a tool for environmental protection, and the credibility of market mechanisms more broadly. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11077-005-6591-9
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Policy Sciences.

    Volume (Year): 38 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 2 (September)
    Pages: 71-90

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:policy:v:38:y:2005:i:2:p:71-90

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    Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=102982

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    References

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    1. Revesz, Richard L. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Environmental Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
    2. J Videras & A Alberini, 2000. "The appeal of voluntary environmental programs: which firms participate and why?," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(4), pages 449-460, October.
    3. Eric W. Welch & Allan Mazur & Stuart Bretschneider, 2000. "Voluntary behavior by electric utilities: Levels of adoption and contribution of the climate challenge program to the reduction of carbon dioxide," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(3), pages 407-425.
    4. Khanna, Madhu & Damon, Lisa A., 1999. "EPA's Voluntary 33/50 Program: Impact on Toxic Releases and Economic Performance of Firms," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-25, January.
    5. Seema Arora & Timothy N. Cason, 1996. "Why Do Firms Volunteer to Exceed Environmental Regulations? Understanding Participation in EPA's 33/50 Program," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 72(4), pages 413-432.
    6. Khanna, Madhu & Quimio, Wilma Rose H. & Bojilova, Dora, 1998. "Toxics Release Information: A Policy Tool for Environmental Protection," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 243-266, November.
    7. Segerson, Kathleen & Miceli, Thomas J., 1998. "Voluntary Environmental Agreements: Good or Bad News for Environmental Protection?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 109-130, September.
    8. Arora Seema & Cason Timothy N., 1995. "An Experiment in Voluntary Environmental Regulation: Participation in EPA's 33/50 Program," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 271-286, May.
    9. Konar, Shameek & Cohen, Mark A., 1997. "Information As Regulation: The Effect of Community Right to Know Laws on Toxic Emissions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 109-124, January.
    10. John W. Maxwell & Thomas P Lyon & Steven C.. Hackett, 1995. "Self-Regulation and Social Welfare: The Political Economy of Corporate Environmentalism," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 122, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
    11. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
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    Cited by:
    1. Luis Perez-Batres & Jonathan Doh & Van Miller & Michael Pisani, 2012. "Stakeholder Pressures as Determinants of CSR Strategic Choice: Why do Firms Choose Symbolic Versus Substantive Self-Regulatory Codes of Conduct?," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 110(2), pages 157-172, October.
    2. Berrone, Pascual & Gelabert, Liliana & Fosfuri, Andrea, 2009. "The impact of symbolic and substantive actions on environmental legitimacy," IESE Research Papers D/778, IESE Business School.
    3. Blackman, Allen & Naranjo, María Angélica & Robalino, Juan & Alpízar, Francisco & Rivera, Jorge, 2014. "Does Tourism Eco-Certification Pay? Costa Rica’s Blue Flag Program," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 41-52.

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