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Collective Action through Voluntary Environmental Programs: A Club Theory Perspective



Voluntary environmental programs are institutions that seek to induce firms to produce positive environmental externalities beyond what government regulations require. Drawing on club theory, this paper outlines a theoretical perspective to study the relationship between program design and program effectiveness. Effective programs have rule structures that mitigate two central collective action problems inherent in producing positive environmental externalities: attracting firms to participate in the program and ensuring that participating firms adhere to program obligations. Because program efficacy can be undermined by collective action problems associated with free riding and shirking, effective voluntary clubs should be designed to mitigate these challenges.

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