Business Responses to Regulation
Edited by Christine Parker and Vibeke Lehmann Nielsen
Chapter 7: Beyond Compliance: Explaining Business Participation in Voluntary Environmental Programs
Jonathan C. Borck and Cary Coglianese* In recent years government regulators have shown increasing interest in encouraging businesses to participate in voluntary environmental programs and to practice environmental stewardship in ways that go beyond what regulations require. In the US, for example, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created numerous voluntary programs, such as its National Environmental Performance Track, that have attracted thousands of industry participants who make pledges to improve their environmental performance. At the same time, researchers have worked to understand how businesses respond to environmental regulations and why some businesses in fact choose to go beyond compliance even though they are not required to do so. A growing body of scholarship has suggested that businesses base their environmental management decisions on factors other than the direct threats of regulatory sanctions and thus may at times be motivated to adopt socially valuable business practices even though they face no government-imposed penalties for not doing so. Existing research on the beyond compliance behavior of firms has, however, tended to rely on small samples of facilities. To explore at a broader scale the determinants of business behavior, we developed a survey instrument that asked US managers to report on their facilities’ operations and participation in government-sponsored voluntary environmental programs.1 Our survey sought to identify the characteristics of facilities that are more likely to go beyond compliance with existing environmental regulations and participate in voluntary programs. We also sought to investigate how business managers perceive the choices that they face...
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