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What improves environmental performance? evidence from Mexican industry


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  • Dasgupta, Susmita
  • Hettige, Hemamala
  • Wheeler, David


Using new survey evidence, the authors analyze the effects of regulation, plant-level management policies, and plant and firm characteristics on environmental performance in Mexican factories. They focus especially on management policies: the degree of effort to improve environmental performance and the type of management strategy adopted. They index effort with two variables: adoption of ISO 14000-type procedures for pollution management and use of plant personnel for environmental inspection and control. Proxies for strategic orientation are two indices of mainstreaming: assigning environmental responsibilities to general managers instead of specialized environmental managers, and providing environmental training for all plant employees, not just specialists. Detailed survey data let them test the performance impact of such factors as ownership, scale, sector, trade and other business relationships, local regulatory enforcement, local community pressure, management education and experience, and workers'general education. Their findings are: 1) Process is important. Plants that institute ISO 14000-type internal management procedures show superior environmental performance. 2) Mainstreaming works. Environmental training for all plant personnel is more effective than developing a cadre of environmental specialists, and assigning environmental tasks to general managers is more effective than using special environmental managers. 3) Regulatory pressure works. Plants that have experienced regulatory inspections and enforcement are significantly cleaner than those that have not. 4) Public scrutiny promotes stronger environmental policies. Publicly traded Mexican firms are significantly cleaner than privately held firms. 5) Size matters. Large plants in multiplant firms are much more likely to adopt policies that improve environmental performance. 6) OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) influences do not matter. It is generally assumed that plants linked to OECD economies show superior environmental performance, but they find no evidence that OECD links--including multinational ownership, trade, management training, or management experience--affect environmental performance. 7) New technology is not significantly cleaner. They find no evidence that plants with newer equipment perform better environmentally (once other factors are accounted for). 8) Education promotes clean production. Plants with more highly educated workers show significantly better environmental management efforts and performance.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1877.

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Date of creation: 31 Jan 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1877

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Keywords: Environmental Economics&Policies; Agricultural Knowledge&Information Systems; Public Health Promotion; Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Water and Industry; Environmental Governance; Water and Industry; Agricultural Knowledge&Information Systems; Environmental Economics&Policies; Health Monitoring&Evaluation;


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  1. Afsah, Shakeb & Laplante, Benoit & Wheeler, David, 1996. "Controlling industrial pollution : a new paradigm," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 1672, The World Bank.
  2. Hettige, Hemamala & Martin, Paul & Singh, Manjula & Wheeler,David R., 1995. "The industrial pollution projection system," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 1431, The World Bank.
  3. Pargal, Sheoli & Wheeler, David, 1996. "Informal Regulation of Industrial Pollution in Developing Countries: Evidence from Indonesia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1314-27, December.
  4. Hettige, Hemamala & Huq, Mainul & Pargal, Sheoli & Wheeler, David, 1996. "Determinants of pollution abatement in developing countries: Evidence from South and Southeast Asia," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 24(12), pages 1891-1904, December.
  5. Dasgupta, Susmita & Laplante, Benoit & Mamingi, Nlandu, 2001. "Pollution and Capital Markets in Developing Countries," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 310-335, November.
  6. Magat, Wesley A & Viscusi, W Kip, 1990. "Effectiveness of the EPA's Regulatory Enforcement: The Case of Industrial Effluent Standards," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 331-60, October.
  7. Laplante, Benoit & Rilstone, Paul, 1996. "Environmental Inspections and Emissions of the Pulp and Paper Industry in Quebec," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 19-36, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Julie Doonan & Paul Lanoie & Benoit Laplante, 2002. "Environmental Performance of Canadian Pulp and Paper Plants: Why Some Do Well and Others Do Not?," Cahiers de recherche 02-01, HEC Montréal, Institut d'économie appliquée.
  2. Matthew A Cole & Robert R J Elliott & Eric Strobl, 2007. "The Environmental Performance of Firms: The Role of Foreign Ownership, Training, and Experience," Discussion Papers, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham 07-08, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
  3. Blackman, Allen, 2009. "Alternative Pollution Control Policies in Developing Countries: Informal, Informational, and Voluntary," Discussion Papers, Resources For the Future dp-09-10, Resources For the Future.
  4. Grant Ferrier, 2010. "The evolution of the environmental industry in the post-NAFTA era in Mexico," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 147-164, June.
  5. Dietrich Earnhart, 2009. "The influence of facility characteristics and permit conditions on the effectiveness of environmental regulatory deterrence," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 247-273, December.
  6. D. Vazquez-Brust & C. Liston-Heyes & J. Plaza-Úbeda & J. Burgos-Jiménez, 2010. "Stakeholders Pressures and Strategic Prioritisation: An Empirical Analysis of Environmental Responses in Argentinean Firms," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, Springer, vol. 91(2), pages 171-192, February.
  7. Francesco Testa & Fabio Iraldo & Nick Johnstone, 2009. "Determinants and effects of green supply chain management (GSCM)," Working Papers 200903, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa, Istituto di Management.
  8. Allen Blackman, 2010. "Alternative Pollution Control Policies in Developing Countries," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 4(2), pages 234-253, Summer.
  9. Facundo Albornoz & Matthew A Cole & Robert J R Elliott & Marco G Ercolani, 2008. "In Search of Environmental Spillovers," Discussion Papers, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham 08-03, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
  10. Dasgupta, Susmita & Lucas, Robert E. B. & Wheeler, David, 1998. "Small manufacturing plants, pollution, and poverty : new evidence from Brazil and Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 2029, The World Bank.
  11. Francesco Testa & Fabio Iraldo, 2008. "Is an Environmental Management System able to influence environmental and competitive performance? The case of the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) in the European Union," Working Papers 200704, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa, Istituto di Management.
  12. Kevin P. Gallagher & Francisco Aguayo & Ana Citlalic González, . "01-07 "Dirt is in the Eye of the Beholder: The World Bank Air Pollution Intensities for Mexico"," GDAE Working Papers, GDAE, Tufts University 01-07, GDAE, Tufts University.
  13. Blackman, Allen & Afsah, Shakeb & Ratunanda, Damayanti, 2000. "How Do Public Disclosure Pollution Control Programs Work? Evidence from Indonesia," Discussion Papers, Resources For the Future dp-00-44, Resources For the Future.


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