Oregon Business Decisions for Environmental Performance

EPA Grant Number: R831034
Title: Oregon Business Decisions for Environmental Performance
Investigators: Ervin, David E. , Khanna, Madhu , Wu, Junjie , Koss, Patricia
Institution: Portland State University , Oregon State University , University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: June 1, 2003 through May 31, 2006 (Extended to May 31, 2007)
Project Amount: $251,973
RFA: Corporate Environmental Behavior: Examining the Effectiveness of Government Interventions and Voluntary Initiatives (2002) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Economics and Decision Sciences


Due to data collection difficulties, few analyses of corporate environmental behavior have measured environmental performance. Most studies examine firms' motivations to adopt certain practices or participate in voluntary programs, either of which may not deliver environmental performance. The proposed research will address this gap in knowledge and policy with primary data from Oregon businesses.


(1) Examine the environmentally friendly practices adopted by a sample of Oregon firms and the motivations for their adoption. In particular, we will examine the effects of firm and industry characteristics, regulatory pressures, and voluntary environmental program features. (2) Examine the impact of adoption of environmental practices on environmental performance of firms. Environmental performance will be measured by levels of toxic releases, releases of criteria air pollutants, water pollutant emissions, the non-compliance status of firms, adoption of process modifications or product redesigns, and other relevant factors. (3) Determine the features of voluntary programs that contribute both directly and indirectly to improvements in environmental performance. For example, the potential for preempting regulatory threats or obtaining public recognition by participating in voluntary programs could have both a direct impact on a firm’s environmental performance and an indirect effect.


The investigators will use a polychotomous-choice selectivity model to test the influences of firm, industry, regulatory and voluntary program factors on environmental practice decisions and the multiple elements of environmental performance. The model permits the simultaneous analysis of factors influencing the adoption of individual environmental practices and performance elements, and corrects for self-selection bias. Primary data from a random sample of approximately 1,000 Oregon firms will be collected to describe their practice use, regulatory constraints, program participation, and environmental performance. Sector-specific reports will be given to respondents to help achieve the desired response rate. Industry focus groups and a group of expert advisers will assist the research team in the study design, survey and analysis.

Expected Results:

The project findings will provide scientific evidence on the factors that are shaping voluntary corporate environmental behavior and performance in Oregon. Previous studies have been limited by case study approaches or incomplete data. The finds will identify the firm, industry and regulatory factors likely to result in efficacious practices in different business settings, and inform the design of public and private voluntary program features that are likely to foster improved environmental performance.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 10 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

socio-economic; public policy; pollution prevention., RFA, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, Scientific Discipline, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Geographic Area, INDUSTRY, Reinvention, State, Small Businesses, Corporate Performance, Economics and Business, decision-making, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, Environmental Law, compliance assistance, policy making, Oregon, polchotomas choice selectivity model, decision analysis, environmental decision making, incentives, decision making, economic incentives, cost benefit, cost/benefit analysis, environmental policy, corporate evironmental reform, compliance costs, corporate environmental behavior, benefits assessment

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2003
  • 2004 Progress Report
  • 2005 Progress Report
  • Final Report