David P. Baron
This paper provides a theory of firm behavior motivated by moral duty, self-interest, and social pressure. A morally managed and a self-interested firm compete in a market in which their corporate social performance (CSP) provides product differentiation. Some citizens have altruistic or warm glow preferences for products with associated CSP, personal giving to social causes, holding shares in firms providing CSP, and contributing to social pressure to increase CSP. Social pressure is delivered by an activist NGO funded by voluntary contributions by citizens. The model characterizes an equilibrium in the product market, the capital market, and the market for social pressure. The equilibrium establishes a price for CSP and for activist-induced social pressure. The theory provides predictions of the market values of firms, the prices of products, firm profits, target selection, contributions to the activist, and the amount of CSP supplied. For example, if citizens do not distinguish between morally motivated CSP and CSP induced by social pressure, the activist is more likely to target the softer, morally motivated firm. Higher quality activists are better funded, target self-interested firms, and obtain greater corporate social performance. Lower quality activists target morally managed firms.
Michael J. Lenox and Charles E. Eesley
Environmental activists are increasingly resorting to private strategies such as boycotts and protests focused on changing individual firms' behavior. In this paper, we examine activists' use of such “private politics” to engender firm compliance with activist objectives. We begin by developing a simple theoretical model of an activist campaign from which we develop a set of empirical hypotheses based on a set of observable features of firms. We test our hypotheses using a unique dataset of environmental activist campaigns against firms in the United States from 1988 to 2003. This paper fills an important need in the literature as one of the first empirical attempts to examine the private political strategies of activists and has important implications for the burgeoning literatures on industry self-regulation and the nonmarket strategies of firms.
Nathaniel O. Keohane, Erin T. Mansur and Andrey Voynov
This paper explores firms' response to regulatory enforcement. New Source Review (NSR), a provision of the Clean Air Act, imposes stringent emissions limitations on significantly modified older power plants. In 1999, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sued owners of 46 plants for NSR violations. We study how electricity companies respond to both the perceived threat of future action, and the action itself. A discrete choice model estimates plants likelihood of being named in lawsuits increases with large historic emissions and investments. On the eve of the lawsuits, emissions at plants with a one standard deviation greater probability of being sued fell approximately 10%.
Lucie Bottega and Jenny De Freitas
This paper studies the welfare implications of different institutions certifying environmental quality supplied by a monopoly. The monopolist can voluntarily certify the quality of the product through an eco-label provided either by an NGO or a for-profit private certifier (PC). The NGO and the PC may use advertisement to promote the label. We compare the NGO and PC regimes with the regime where the regulator imposes a minimum quality standard. The presence of a private certifier in the market decreases the scope for public intervention. The availability of green advertisement reinforces the above result.
Aaron K. Chatterji, David I. Levine and Michael W. Toffel
Ratings of corporations' environmental activities and capabilities influence billions of dollars of “socially responsible” investments as well as some consumers, activists, and potential employees. In one of the first studies to assess these ratings, we examine how well the most widely used ratings—those of Kinder, Lydenberg, Domini Research & Analytics (KLD)—provide transparency about past and likely future environmental performance. We find KLD “concern” ratings to be fairly good summaries of past environmental performance. In addition, firms with more KLD concerns have slightly, but statistically significantly, more pollution and regulatory compliance violations in later years. KLD environmental strengths, in contrast, do not accurately predict pollution levels or compliance violations. Moreover, we find evidence that KLD's ratings are not optimally using publicly available data. We discuss the implications of our findings for advocates and skeptics of corporate social responsibility as well as for studies that relate social responsibility ratings to financial performance.
Magali Delmas and Ivan Montiel
Suppliers face increasing pressure from their customers to improve their environmental performance. When firms downstream in the supply chain seek to achieve such improvements themselves, they frequently request that their suppliers adopt greener practices. This paper investigates the rationale for suppliers to comply with or resist the mandate of their customers to adopt the international environmental management standard ISO 14001 in the North American automotive industry. We argue that the effectiveness of such a mandate will vary according to the characteristics of the relationship between suppliers and customers. We contrast and test hypotheses based on both transaction cost and information theories to suggest that suppliers, whether in a dependent or distant relationship with their customers, have incentives to comply with the requests of their customers but through different mechanisms.
Ramon Casadesus-Masanell, Michael Crooke, Forest Reinhardt and Vishal Vasishth
To shed light on individuals' willingness to pay for “green” goods (i.e., goods that are supposed to have lower adverse environmental impacts either in production or in use), we study data from the introduction by Patagonia, Inc., of organic cotton sportswear in the mid-1990s. Patagonia, a maker of high-end outdoor wear, substituted organic cotton for conventionally grown cotton in all of its sportswear (i.e., casual clothing for travel and leisure) in 1996. We find that customers were willing to pay significant premiums for organic cotton garments although the organic cotton provided no demonstrable private incremental benefits to the customer.
Aurora García-Gallego and Nikolaos Georgantzís
In a duopoly model of vertical differentiation, we study market equilibrium and the resulting social welfare following an increase in the consumer's willingness to pay (WTP) for products sold by socially responsible manufacturers. Different types of such changes emerge depending on their effects on consumer heterogeneity. We show that, in most cases, increases in the consumers' social consciousness yield higher profits to socially responsible firms and may lead to higher levels of social welfare, provided that the market structure is left unchanged. However, when an increase in the consumer's social consciousness changes the market structure, welfare may fall, while the duopolists' profits rise. The resulting tension between private and social interest calls for a cautious attitude toward information campaigns aimed at increasing the consumer's social consciousness.
Linda A. Toolsema
In a vertical differentiation model where both duopolists supply the same two qualities of an otherwise homogeneous product, we derive the critical level of the interfirm switching cost needed to sustain monopoly pricing. In particular, we show how a decrease in the intrafirm switching cost may cause a decrease in this critical value, thereby facilitating monopoly pricing. We apply the results to a setting with green and nongreen products—in particular electricity—and discuss implications for policy measures intended to stimulate the production and consumption of green products.