Recent business literature argues that several incentives drive firms to cooperate with government environmental regulators and regulation without pressure from the government. This study explores and tests such arguments using a metric called regulatory intensity. The study uses survey data from the radioactive scrap metal industry. The findings challenge the recent literature that ‘going green pays’. The study found that strong government actions (regulatory intensity) are related to firm cooperation. Firms seem to adopt cooperative strategies when coerced to do so by the government. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.