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Self-Regulation and Social Welfare: The Political Economy of Corporate Environmentalism

Listed author(s):
  • Maxwell, John W
  • Lyon, Thomas P
  • Hackett, Steven C

We extend the economic theory of regulation to allow for strategic self-regulation that preempts political action. When political "entry" is costly for consumers, firms can deter it through voluntary restraints. Unlike standard entry models, deterrence is achieved by overinvesting to raise the rival's welfare in the event of entry. Empirical evidence on releases of toxic chemicals shows that an increased threat of regulation (as proxied by increased membership in conservation groups) indeed induces firms to reduce toxic releases. We establish conditions under which self-regulation, if it occurs, is a Pareto improvement once costs of influencing policy are included. Copyright 2000 by the University of Chicago.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/467466
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law & Economics.

Volume (Year): 43 (2000)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 583-617

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:43:y:2000:i:2:p:583-617
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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  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. Thomas P. Lyon, 1991. "Regulation with 20-20 Hindsight: "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose"?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(4), pages 581-595, Winter.
  3. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
  4. Braeutigam, Ronald R & Quirk, James P, 1984. "Demand Uncertainty and the Regulated Firm," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 25(1), pages 45-60, February.
  5. Richard Gilbert & Xavier Vives, 1986. "Entry Deterrence and the Free Rider Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(1), pages 71-83.
  6. Shabtai Donnenfeld & Shlomo Weber, 1995. "Limit Qualities and Entry Deterrence," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(1), pages 113-130, Spring.
  7. Thomas J. Holmes, 1998. "The Effect of State Policies on the Location of Manufacturing: Evidence from State Borders," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(4), pages 667-705, August.
  8. Alberini, Anna & Austin, David, 1999. "On and Off the Liability Bandwagon: Explaining State Adoptions of Strict Liability in Hazardous Waste Programs," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 41-63, January.
  9. Maloney, Michael T & McCormick, Robert E, 1982. "A Positive Theory of Environmental Quality Regulation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 99-123, April.
  10. Amihai Glazer & Henry McMillan, 1992. "Pricing by the Firm Under Regulatory Threat," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 1089-1099.
  11. Pirrong, Stephen Craig, 1995. "The Self-Regulation of Commodity Exchanges: The Case of Market Manipulation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(1), pages 141-206, April.
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