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Judicious Incentives: International Public Policy Responses to the Globalization of Environmental Management

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Abstract

Public policymakers and regulators worldwide are grappling with the desire to improve environmental quality through appropriate regulation of business, while also streamlining government. Concurrently, environmentally conscience consumers are calling for improved environmental performance by industry. As a result of these pressures, regulators and lawmakers worldwide are attempting to craft effective policies that create adequate incentives for environmental protection on the part of firms, in the face of decreasing budgets and an increased demand for the use of market-based incentives. To aid decision makers as they struggle with these concerns, this study provides a detailed case examination of the dilemmas and responses of national-level regulators as they try to develop appropriate responses to the rise of international and “voluntary” management regimes. To accomplish these goals, this article compares the public policy responses of governments around the world to one such voluntary international environmental regime: ISO 14001. ISO 14001 is a form of industry self-regulation in response to market forces calling for harmonization in environmental management and as a result of consumer and trade-partner demands. This study examines the relationships between regulators and the regulated in order to understand if ISO 14001 certified firms are receiving regulatory relief or other forms of public policy/regulatory benefits as a result of their certification. It will also examine the impact that government incentives (or their absence) are having on the certification decisions of firms around the world. This information helps us to begin to understand how the trends toward smaller government and voluntary environmental regimes are affecting one another.

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