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The Greenwashing Machine : is CSR more than Communication

Listed author(s):
  • 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 - Polytechnique - X - 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.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number hal-00448861.

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Date of creation: 03 Jul 2009
Publication status: Published in DR LEO ; 2009-10. DR LEO, 2009-10. 2009
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00448861
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