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Coerced Confessions: Self-Policing in the Shadow of the Regulator

  • Michael W. Toffel

As part of a recent trend toward more cooperative relations between regulators and industry, novel government programs are encouraging firms to monitor their own regulatory compliance and voluntarily report their own violations. In this study, we examine how regulatory enforcement activities influence organizations' decisions to self-police. We created a comprehensive data set for the "Audit Policy," a United States Environmental Protection Agency program that encourages companies to self-disclose violations of environmental laws and regulations in exchange for reduced sanctions. We find that facilities are more likely to self-disclose if they were recently subjected to one of several different enforcement measures and if they were provided with immunity from prosecution for self-disclosed violations. The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Yale University. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization.

Volume (Year): 24 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (May)
Pages: 45-71

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:24:y:2008:i:1:p:45-71
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  1. Malik Arun S., 1993. "Self-Reporting and the Design of Policies for Regulating Stochastic Pollution," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 241-257, May.
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  4. Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 1994. "Optimal Law Enforcement with Self-Reporting of Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 583-606, June.
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  7. Cohen, Mark A, 1987. "Optimal Enforcement Strategy to Prevent Oil Spills: An Application of a Principal-Agent Model with Moral Hazard," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 23-51, April.
  8. Alexander Pfaff & Chris William Sanchirico, 2004. "Big field, small potatoes: An empirical assessment of EPA's self-audit policy," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(3), pages 415-432.
  9. Harrington, Winston, 1988. "Enforcement leverage when penalties are restricted," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 29-53, October.
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  11. 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, vol. 33(2), pages 331-60, October.
  12. James T. Hamilton, 1993. "Politics and Social Costs: Estimating the Impact of Collective Action on Hazardous Waste Facilities," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(1), pages 101-125, Spring.
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  14. Hamilton, James T, 1999. "Exercising Property Rights to Pollute: Do Cancer Risks and Politics Affect Plant Emission Reductions?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 105-24, August.
  15. Pfaff, Alexander S P & Sanchirico, Chris William, 2000. "Environmental Self-Auditing: Setting the Proper Incentives for Discovery and Correction of Environmental Harm," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 189-208, April.
  16. 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.
  17. Innes, Robert, 2001. "Violator Avoidance Activities and Self-Reporting in Optimal Law Enforcement," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 239-56, April.
  18. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  19. Innes, Robert, 2000. "Self-Reporting in Optimal Law Enforcement When Violators Have Heterogeneous Probabilities of Apprehension," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 287-300, January.
  20. Shimshack, Jay P. & Ward, Michael B., 2005. "Regulator reputation, enforcement, and environmental compliance," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 519-540, November.
  21. Robert Innes, 1999. "Self-Policing and Optimal Law Enforcement When Violator Remediation is Valuable," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1305-1325, December.
  22. 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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