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Environmental Information Disclosure Programs: They Work, but Why?

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Objective. Despite the rich discussions about the role of information disclosure programs in environmental policy, our theoretical understanding of how and why information disclosure programs work lacks a clear framework. This article begins to fill that void by laying out some fundamental theories and concepts that underlie the empirical work on the subject. Methods. Basic theories arising from our knowledge of economics, psychology, and politics are compared. Previous research is analyzed with these theories in mind. Results. Research results confirm the plausibility of each of these theories, though the most compelling evidence so far suggests that shock and shame are key motivating factors for improved environmental performance by industry. Conclusions. The argument is made that our theoretical foundations must be understood better if we are to make sense of the empirical work on the subject. Policy implications are addressed.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Washington State University–Vancouver

Publication date: 2002-03-01

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