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The Greenwashing Machine : is CSR more than Communication


  • Rémi Bazillier

    () (LEO - Laboratoire d'économie d'Orleans - UO - Université d'Orléans - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Julien Vauday

    () (Department of Economics, Ecole Polytechnique - X - École polytechnique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CEPN - Centre d'Economie de l'Université Paris Nord (ancienne affiliation) - UP13 - Université Paris 13 - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and advertising are strategic complements. If a claim about the environmental or social benefits of a product is unsubstantiated or mislead- ing, this practice is known as greenwashing (GW). The model clearly identifies some "usual suspects" that will prefer GW over CSR. We then carry out an empirical analysis using CSR data, economic data on the 500 largest European firms, and proxies for green com- munication to test the predictions. Several instruments are used to estimate the propensity to prefer GW. We show that "hard greenwashing", i.e. active communication with no CSR at all, is not always a credible strategy, and highlight the concept of "light greenwashing". It may have two dimensions: either it can be a response to the presence of greenwashing firms or it can be due to the simple possibility of advertising. Both possibilities are verified empirically, thus confirming the changing nature of greenwashing practices.

Suggested Citation

  • Rémi Bazillier & Julien Vauday, 2009. "The Greenwashing Machine : is CSR more than Communication," Post-Print hal-00448861, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00448861
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Boland & Brendan Cooper & James M. White, 2016. "Making Sustainability Tangible: Land O'Lakes and the Dairy Supply Chain," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 98(2), pages 648-657.
    2. Cécile Cézanne & Marianne Rubinstein, 2011. "The Role of CSR in the Governance of the "New firm": an Empirical Study of the French Telecommunications Industry," CEPN Working Papers hal-00628726, HAL.
    3. Kinvi Logossah, 2013. "Diversité et unité du concept de responsabilité sociale des entreprises," Documents de Travail 2013-09, CEREGMIA, Université des Antilles et de la Guyane.
    4. Alexandra ZBUCHEA, 2013. "Are Customers Rewarding Responsible Businesses? An Overview of the Theory and Research in the Field of CSR," Management Dynamics in the Knowledge Economy Journal, College of Management, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, vol. 1(3), pages 367-385, December.
    5. Driver, Ciaran, 2015. "Advertising’s Elusive Economic Rationale: is there a case for limiting tax relief?," MPRA Paper 68790, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Capron, Michel & Petit, Pascal, 2011. "Responsabilité sociale des entreprises et diversité des capitalismes," Revue de la Régulation - Capitalisme, institutions, pouvoirs, Association Recherche et Régulation, vol. 9.
    7. Friedrich, Nina & Heyder, Matthias & Theuvsen, Ludwig, 2012. "Sustainability Management in Agribusiness: Challenges, Concepts, Responsibilities and Performance," 2012 International European Forum, February 13-17, 2012, Innsbruck-Igls, Austria 144979, International European Forum on System Dynamics and Innovation in Food Networks.
    8. Cézanne, Cécile & Rubinstein, Marianne, 2012. "La RSE comme instrument de gouvernance d’entreprise : une application à l’industrie française des télécommunications," Revue de la Régulation - Capitalisme, institutions, pouvoirs, Association Recherche et Régulation, vol. 12.
    9. Ross, R. Brent & Pandey, Vivek & Ross, Kara L., 2015. "Sustainability and Strategy in U.S. Agri-Food Firms: An Assessment of Current Practices," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association, vol. 0(Issue 1), pages 1-32, February.
    10. Friedrich, Nina & Heyder, Matthias & Theuvsen, Ludwig, 2012. "Sustainability Management in Agribusiness: Challenges, Concepts, Responsibilities and Performance," International Journal on Food System Dynamics, International Center for Management, Communication, and Research, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 1-13, December.
    11. Tae Kyung Yoon & Seongjun Kim & Takako Takano & Sun-Jin Yun & Yowhan Son, 2016. "Contributing to Sustainability Education of East Asian University Students through a Field Trip Experience: A Social-Ecological Perspective," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(10), pages 1-19, October.

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    Corporate Social Responsibility; Greenwashing; Communication;

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