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Environmental policy without costs? A review of the Porter hypothesis


  • Brännlund, Runar

    () (Umeå University)

  • Lundgren, Tommy

    () (Umeå School of Business)


This paper reviews the theoretical and empirical literature connected to the so called Porter Hypothesis. That is, to review the literature connected to the discussion about the relation between environmental policy and competitiveness. According to the conventional wisdom environmental policy, aiming for improving the environment through for example emission reductions, do imply costs since scarce resources must be diverted from somewhere else. However, this conventional wisdom has been challenged and questioned recently through what has been denoted the “Porter hypothesis”. Those in the forefront of the Porter hypothesis challenge the conventional wisdom basically on the ground that resources are used inefficiently in the absence of the right kind of environmental regulations, and that the conventional neo-classical view is too static to take inefficiencies into account. The conclusions that can be made from this review is (1) that the theoretical literature can identify the circumstances and mechanisms that must exist for a Porter effect to occur, (2) that these circumstances are rather non-general, hence rejecting the Porter hypothesis in general, (3) that the empirical literature give no general support for the Porter hypothesis. Furthermore, a closer look at the “Swedish case” reveals no support for the Porter hypothesis in spite of the fact that Swedish environmental policy the last 15-20 years seems to be in line the prerequisites stated by the Porter hypothesis concerning environmental policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Brännlund, Runar & Lundgren, Tommy, 2009. "Environmental policy without costs? A review of the Porter hypothesis," Sustainable Investment and Corporate Governance Working Papers 2009/1, Sustainable Investment Research Platform.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhb:sicgwp:2009_001

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Söderholm, Kristina & Söderholm, Patrik & Helenius, Heidi & Pettersson, Maria & Viklund, Roine & Masloboev, Vladimir & Mingaleva, Tatiana & Petrov, Viktor, 2015. "Environmental regulation and competitiveness in the mining industry: Permitting processes with special focus on Finland, Sweden and Russia," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 130-142.
    2. Lundgren, Tommy & Marklund, Per-Olov, 2012. "Environmental Performance and Profits," CERE Working Papers 2012:8, CERE - the Center for Environmental and Resource Economics.
    3. Valadkhani, Abbas & Roshdi, Israfil & Smyth, Russell, 2016. "A multiplicative environmental DEA approach to measure efficiency changes in the world's major polluters," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 363-375.
    4. Stöver, Jana & Weche, John P., 2015. "Environmental regulation and sustainable competitiveness: Evaluating the role of firm-level green investments in the context of the Porter hypothesis," HWWI Research Papers 170, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
    5. Lundgren, Tommy & Marklund, Per-Olov & Samakovlis, Eva & Zhou, Wenchao, 2013. "Carbon Prices and Incentives for Technological Development," CERE Working Papers 2013:4, CERE - the Center for Environmental and Resource Economics.
    6. Zylicz, Tomasz, 2010. "Goals and Principles of Environmental Policy," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 3(4), pages 299-334, May.
    7. Bostian, Moriah & Färe, Rolf & Grosskopf, Shawna & Lundgren, Tommy, 2016. "Environmental investment and firm performance: A network approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 243-255.
    8. Stefan Ambec & Mark A. Cohen & Stewart Elgie & Paul Lanoie, 2013. "The Porter Hypothesis at 20: Can Environmental Regulation Enhance Innovation and Competitiveness?," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 7(1), pages 2-22, January.
    9. André, Francisco J., 2015. "Strategic Effects and the Porter Hypothesis," MPRA Paper 62237, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Meyer, Andrew & Pac, Grzegorz, 2013. "Environmental performance of state-owned and privatized eastern European energy utilities," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 205-214.
    11. Anabel Zárate-Marco & Jaime Vallés-Giménez, 2015. "Environmental tax and productivity in a decentralized context: new findings on the Porter hypothesis," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 313-339, October.
    12. Yang, Chih-Hai & Tseng, Yu-Hsuan & Chen, Chiang-Ping, 2012. "Environmental regulations, induced R&D, and productivity: Evidence from Taiwan's manufacturing industries," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 514-532.
    13. Thanh Tam Nguyen-Huu & Minh Nguyen-Khac & Quoc Tran-Nam, 2017. "The role of environmental regulations and innovation in TFP convergence: Evidence from manufacturing SMEs in Viet Nam," WIDER Working Paper Series 092, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    14. Bergquist, Ann-Kristin & Söderholm, Kristina & Kinneryd, Hanna & Lindmark, Magnus & Söderholm, Patrik, 2013. "Command-and-control revisited: Environmental compliance and technological change in Swedish industry 1970–1990," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 6-19.
    15. Nikos Chatzistamoulou & George Diagourtas & Kostas Kounetas, 2017. "Do pollution abatement expenditures lead to higher productivity growth? Evidence from Greek manufacturing industries," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 19(1), pages 15-34, January.
    16. Aziz Bouzaher & Sebnem Sahin & Erinç Yeldan, 2015. "HOW TO GO GREEN: a general equilibrium investigation of environmental policies for sustained growth with an application to Turkey’s economy," Letters in Spatial and Resource Sciences, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 49-76, March.
    17. Tommy Lundgren & Per-Olov Marklund, 2015. "Climate policy, environmental performance, and profits," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 225-235, December.
    18. Kolsuz, Gunes & Yeldan, A. Erinc, 2017. "Economics of climate change and green employment: A general equilibrium investigation for Turkey," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 1240-1250.
    19. Xie, Rong-hui & Yuan, Yi-jun & Huang, Jing-jing, 2017. "Different Types of Environmental Regulations and Heterogeneous Influence on “Green” Productivity: Evidence from China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 104-112.

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