Explaining Variation in Corporate Environmental Performance

EPA Grant Number: R832153
Title: Explaining Variation in Corporate Environmental Performance
Investigators: Kagan, Robert A. , Thornton, Dorothy , Gunningham, Neil
Institution: University of California - Berkeley
Current Institution: University of California - Berkeley , Australian National University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: April 1, 2005 through March 31, 2007
Project Amount: $356,875
RFA: Corporate Environmental Behavior and the Effectiveness of Government Interventions (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice


The ultimate objectives of the proposed research are to increase knowledge about how government interventions and voluntary initiatives can best be designed to motivate corporations to comply with and to go “beyond compliance” with existing regulation. Through empirical research on two industry sectors, the study will help us understand: (i) the ways and the extent to which regulation matters in shaping corporate environmental behavior; (ii) the relative importance of regulation compared to other incentives and mechanisms of social control (including “social license” pressures and economic constraints), and how it interacts with those mechanisms; and (iii) how internal features of the firm (management style) affect corporate environmental behavior.


The project team will conduct intensive case studies of 16 facilities in two industrial sectors–8 in the metal finishing industry and 8 in dairy products. For each of these groupings, we will use both quantitative and qualitative data to determine (1) the extent to which the environmental performance of firms differs, and (2) why some facilities’ environmental performance is better than others.

Expected Results:

The expected results will help provide answers to a range of questions relevant to environmental policymaking and implementation strategies: the roles of regulation, social license pressures and economic constraints in driving improved environmental performance; how motivational pressure points vary between industry sectors and types of organization; and how the above variables interact with management style to motivate corporate environmental behavior. In doing so, the research will contribute to more effective environmental regulation and policy design and assist in filling the gap in our understanding of the pathways to better corporate environmental performance.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 2 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Porter hypothesis, environmental management systems, environmental certification, self-regulation, voluntary agreements, corporate compliance, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, INDUSTRY, Small Businesses, Corporate Performance, Economics and Business, Environmental Law, compliance assistance, policy making, community involvement, government intervention, environmental compliance determinants, corporate evironmental reform, enforcement impact, corporate environmental behavior, motivators

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2005 Progress Report
  • Final