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Salience games: Private politics when public attention is limited

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  • Heyes, Anthony
  • Lyon, Thomas P.
  • Martin, Steve

Abstract

We develop a theoretical model in which an industry and NGO play salience games—they act strategically to influence public attention to social impacts in the sector. Salience stimulates extra donations for the NGO, and thus firms have incentives to hide the damage they do in order to avoid public attention. We show that when public attention is scarce, a greater campaign orientation induces industry to invest in greater obfuscation, starving the NGO of funds. The NGO in turn strategically biases its mission away from campaigns—and in favor of sector-wide versus firm-specific campaigns—but not by as much as a welfare-motivated planner would want. When public attention is avoided by a mixture of substantive and symbolic action, we show that a greater weight on the former induces the NGO to become more campaign-oriented, with social damage lower. Highly competitive industries have greater incentives to commit to substantive actions.

Suggested Citation

  • Heyes, Anthony & Lyon, Thomas P. & Martin, Steve, 2018. "Salience games: Private politics when public attention is limited," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 396-410.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:88:y:2018:i:c:p:396-410
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2018.02.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Non-market strategy; NGOs; Limited attention; Salience;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General

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