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The appeal of voluntary environmental programs: which firms participate and why?


  • J Videras
  • A Alberini


Why do firms participate in the EPA's voluntary environmental programs? Possible reasons include: (1) to appeal to consumers who demand 'green' products; (2) to preempt government regulation; (3) to seek regulatory relief from the agency; and (4) to gain a competitive advantage over competitors. This article examines the determinants of participation in voluntary environmental programs, focusing on testing hypotheses 1 and 3. To test 2, a different approach is used than in previous literature. The focus is on a specified universe of firms (manufacturing firms in the Standard & Poor 500), and their participation in each of three EPA voluntary programs (33/50, Green Lights, and WasteWi$) referring to differently regulated pollutants is analyzed. Our empirical analyses reveal that (1) publicity is an important component of participation; (2) the worse the environmental track record of the firm, the more likely the firm is to participate, but only in programs directly related to highly regulated pollutants; and (3) firms that scrutinize their environmental performance more carefully are wary of newer programs with uncertain reach of the public and uncertain benefits. Firms appear to value the information/technology transfer aspect of joining a program. Copyright 2000 Western Economic Association International.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:coecpo:v:18:y:2000:i:4:p:449-460

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Stephen J. Decanio & William E. Watkins, 1998. "Investment In Energy Efficiency: Do The Characteristics Of Firms Matter?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 95-107, February.
    3. 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.
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