Cracker Barrel on Regulating Responsibility

Business and the Environment

A role for plant managers in regulating pollution?

Much research has been done on the role of consumers in encouraging firms to regulate pollution, but little is known about the role that plant managers play.

Is it more effective to distribute information to polluters than to rely on consumer groups to pressure firms?

This study published in Human Ecology Review explores the impacts of voluntary regulation in Indonesia and produces some useful data:

Our survey data suggest that, in addition to the four elements
of public disclosure programs that Tietenberg (1998)
identifies (detecting environmental risks; assuring reliable information;
disseminating the information to those at risk
from the pollution; and allowing various agents to act on the
information), a fifth element — disseminating the information
to polluters — also plays an important role in generating
emissions reductions and, therefore, should be promoted by
program administrators.

But, the authors remind us that:

[S]imply supplying new information to plant
managers without making that information public may not be
sufficient to motivate significant abatement.

In the end, this study was performed on a pollution control program in Indonesia that began the same year as the Suharto regime, so the data may only reflect the fact that NGOs were not present or able to pressure firms to comply.

A more interesting variable might be how easy it is for firms to get information.  Do firms seek out information on how to comply or is it easier when they are given free assessments?


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