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The Greenwashing Machine : is CSR more than Communication


Author Info

  • Rémi Bazillier

    (LEO - Laboratoire d'économie d'Orleans - CNRS : UMR6221 - Université d'Orléans)

  • Julien Vauday

    (Department of Economics, Ecole Polytechnique - CNRS : UMR7176 - Polytechnique - X, CEPN - Centre d'économie de l'Université de Paris Nord - CNRS : UMR7115 - Université Paris XIII - Paris Nord)


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and advertising are strategic complements. If a claim about the environmental or social benefits of a product is unsubstantiated or mislead- ing, this practice is known as greenwashing (GW). The model clearly identifies some "usual suspects" that will prefer GW over CSR. We then carry out an empirical analysis using CSR data, economic data on the 500 largest European firms, and proxies for green com- munication to test the predictions. Several instruments are used to estimate the propensity to prefer GW. We show that "hard greenwashing", i.e. active communication with no CSR at all, is not always a credible strategy, and highlight the concept of "light greenwashing". It may have two dimensions: either it can be a response to the presence of greenwashing firms or it can be due to the simple possibility of advertising. Both possibilities are verified empirically, thus confirming the changing nature of greenwashing practices.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number hal-00448861.

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Date of creation: 03 Jul 2009
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Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00448861

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Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility ; Greenwashing ; Communication;

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Cited by:
  1. Cécile Cézanne & Marianne Rubinstein, 2011. "The Role of CSR in the Governance of the "New firm": an Empirical Study of the French Telecommunications Industry," CEPN Working Papers hal-00628726, HAL.
  2. Friedrich, Nina & Heyder, Matthias & Theuvsen, Ludwig, 2012. "Sustainability Management in Agribusiness: Challenges, Concepts, Responsibilities and Performance," 2012 International European Forum, February 13-17, 2012, Innsbruck-Igls, Austria 144979, International European Forum on Innovation and System Dynamics in Food Networks.
  3. Friedrich, Nina & Heyder, Matthias & Theuvsen, Ludwig, 2012. "Sustainability Management in Agribusiness: Challenges, Concepts, Responsibilities and Performance," International Journal on Food System Dynamics, International Center for Management, Communication, and Research, vol. 3(2).
  4. Kinvi Logossah, 2013. "Diversité et unité du concept de responsabilité sociale des entreprises," Documents de Travail 2013-09, CEREGMIA, Université des Antilles et de la Guyane.


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