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A Theory of Environmental Risk Disclosure

  • Estelle Gozlan
  • Bernard Sinclair-Desgagné

The regulation of environmental risks increasingly emphasizes the awareness and empowerment of stakeholders. The success of this approach, however, seems to depend crucially on the quality of environmental disclosures. In this paper we investigate the amount and quality of the information that would be voluntarily delivered to some stakeholder by a potential polluter. We find that information may be hazier when the stakeholder is confident (or naive) a priori, the cost of analyzing the received reports increases little with their complexity, or a polluter's net expected payoff from undertaking an industrial activity that would turn out to be unsafe is small. A worried stakeholder and a low cost of producing more accurate figures, on the other hand, may favor disclosure of high-quality information. By delivering information of very good quality, safe firms can set themselves apart more easily from the dangerous ones the higher the relative ex post payoff from their current industrial activity. The implications of this framework for the scope and design of public programs of environmental disclosure are briefly examined. La réglementation des risques environnementaux met de plus en plus l'accent sur l'information et la responsabilisation des parties prenantes. Le succès de cette approche repose toutefois largement sur la qualité de l'information fournie par les entreprises visées. Cet article porte sur la quantité et la qualité de l'information qui serait volontairement fournie à une partie prenante par un pollueur potentiel. On trouve que cette information sera moins précise lorsque la partie prenante est confiante (voire naïve) a priori, que le coût d'analyse de l'information livrée croît avec la complexité de celle-ci, ou que le revenu attendu par une entreprise se révélant être en non conformité est petit. En revanche, une partie prenante inquiète et un faible coût de production de données précises encouragent la livraison d'une information de meilleure qualité. La précision de l'information livrée permet à une firme sûre de se distinguer d'autant plus facilement d'une firme dangereuse que son revenu ex post est relativement plus élevé. � la lumière de notre modèle, on examine en terminant plusieurs principes se rapportant au design des programmes publics de révélation des risques à la santé et à l'environnement.

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Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Working Papers with number 2001s-17.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: 01 Mar 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2001s-17
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  1. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-51, November.
  2. Khanna, Madhu & Quimio, Wilma Rose H. & Bojilova, Dora, 1998. "Toxics Release Information: A Policy Tool for Environmental Protection," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 243-266, November.
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  8. Diamond, Douglas W, 1985. " Optimal Release of Information by Firms," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1071-94, September.
  9. Titman, Sheridan & Trueman, Brett, 1986. "Information quality and the valuation of new issues," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 159-172, June.
  10. Paul R. Milgrom & John Roberts, 1985. "Relying on the Information of Interested Parties," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 749, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  11. Verrecchia, Robert E., 1983. "Discretionary disclosure," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 179-194, April.
  12. Teoh, Siew Hong & Hwang, Chuan Yang, 1991. "Nondisclosure and Adverse Disclosure as Signals of Firm Value," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 4(2), pages 283-313.
  13. Trueman, Brett, 1986. "Why do managers voluntarily release earnings forecasts?," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 53-71, March.
  14. Paul R. Milgrom, 1979. "Good Nevs and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Discussion Papers 407R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  15. 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.
  16. Fishman, Michael J & Hagerty, Kathleen M, 1990. "The Optimal Amount of Discretion to Allow in Disclosure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 427-44, May.
  17. H.S. Shin, 1994. "News Management and the Value of Firms," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(1), pages 58-71, Spring.
  18. Okuno-Fujiwara, Masahiro & Postlewaite, Andrew & Suzumura, Kotaro, 1990. "Strategic Information Revelation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(1), pages 25-47, January.
  19. Grossman, Sanford J, 1981. "The Informational Role of Warranties and Private Disclosure about Product Quality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 461-83, December.
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