Organizational Structures, Citizen Participation, and Corporate Environmental Performance

EPA Grant Number: R828826
Title: Organizational Structures, Citizen Participation, and Corporate Environmental Performance
Investigators: Grant, Don
Institution: University of Arizona
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: June 1, 2001 through May 31, 2002
Project Amount: $35,123
RFA: Corporate Environmental Performance and the Effectiveness of Government Interventions (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice


This proposed study will address two questions: 1) how does the ownership status of a regulated facility affect its environmental performance?, and 2) what are the implications of this for the effectiveness of community-based forms of regulation? Sociologists have long speculated that absentee-owned plants are more prone to pollute because they are typically managed by outsiders who do not identify with a local community and its natural environment. More recently, they have suggested that subsidiaries may also pose a special threat, since under the Tax Reform Act of 1986, parent companies can create a "liability firewall" between themselves and their most hazardous branches by reclassifying the latter as subsidiaries. Sociologists speculate further that unless the ownership status and other organizational characteristics of regulated facilities are taken into account, community-based forms of regulation, like states' right-to-know programs (mandated under SARA Title III), will have limited effects.

This study hypothesizes that: a) absentee-owned plants and subsidiaries (established after 1986) have higher levels and rates of emission than other facilities; b) the positive effects of facility size and age on emissions (found in other NSF-funded research by the author) are compounded when plants are absentee-owned or subsidiaries; and 3) larger, older, absentee-owned plants and subsidiaries are less likely to reduce their emissions in response to states' right-to-know programs.


To test these hypotheses, a data file consisting of roughly 2,000 chemical plants will be constructed, which will include measures of each plant's toxic releases (from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory), the right-to-know programs of its state (from the National Conference of State Legislatures), and its ownership status and other relevant organizational characteristics (from the Dun and Bradstreet Company). Cross-sectional and panel regression designs will be used to test the effects of ownership status, states' right-to-know policies, and other factors on plants' emission levels and rates in 1990, and between 1990 and 1995.

Expected Results:

The proposed study will be the first to investigate the effects of ownership status and other organizational structures on toxic releases using facility-specific data. Prior research has demonstrated that organizational factors have economic effects; this research will determine whether they also have environmental consequences. Results should guide regulators in deciding which types of facilities to monitor, and the business community in its efforts at self-regulation. Findings should also help local policy makers anticipate how responsive different plants will be to initiatives encouraging citizen participation.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 2 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

chemicals, sustainable development, social science., RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, Corporate Performance, Economics and Business, Social Science, citizen participation, ownership status, community involvement, toxic release inventory, plant emissions, public reporting, organizational structure, right-to-know programs, environmental behavior, motivators

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report