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

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  • Maxwell, John W
  • Lyon, Thomas P
  • Hackett, Steven C

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Maxwell, John W & Lyon, Thomas P & Hackett, Steven C, 2000. "Self-Regulation and Social Welfare: The Political Economy of Corporate Environmentalism," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 583-617, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:43:y:2000:i:2:p:583-617
    DOI: 10.1086/467466
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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.
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    3. Hackett Steven C., 1995. "Pollution-Controlling Innovation in Oligopolistic Industries: Some Comparisons between Patent Races and Research Joint Ventures," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 339-356, November.
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    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.
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