Evaluating the Social Effects of Environmental Leadership Programs

20 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2008

See all articles by Jonathan C. Borck

Jonathan C. Borck

Analysis Group, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts

Cary Coglianese

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Jennifer Nash

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Date Written: October 2008


In the past decade, EPA and over 20 states have created voluntary environmental leadership programs designed to recognize and reward businesses that take steps that go beyond compliance with the strictures of environmental law. Environmental leadership programs seek not only to spur direct improvements to environment quality but also to advance broader social goals that may lead indirectly to environmental improvements, such as improving business-government relationships and changing business culture. Measuring progress toward leadership programs' social goals is a particularly challenging but essential task if researchers and decision makers are to understand the full impacts of these programs. In this paper, Jonathan C. Borck, Cary Coglianese, and Jennifer Nash present strategies for overcoming the three core challenges in evaluating the social effects of leadership programs and any voluntary environmental initiative: (1) defining appropriate measures of social goals, (2) inferring whether programs achieve those goals, and (3) linking social effects to environmental outcomes. Only through careful attention to these three empirical issues will it be possible to rule out alternative explanations and determine whether environmental leadership programs are truly generating their intended positive social effects as well as improvements to the environment.

Keywords: Administrative law, regulatory agencies, state and federal regulation, regulatory policy making, voluntary environmental leadership programs, business responses to regulation, innovative models of regulation, self-regulation, social effects of voluntary environmental initiatives, empirical research

JEL Classification: D73, K23, K32

Suggested Citation

Borck, Jonathan C. and Coglianese, Cary and Nash, Jennifer, Evaluating the Social Effects of Environmental Leadership Programs (October 2008). Environmental Law Reporter, Vol. 38, p. 10697, October 2008, U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 08-45, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1301708

Jonathan C. Borck

Analysis Group, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts ( email )

111 Huntington Avenue
10th floor
Boston, MA 02199

Cary Coglianese (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-6867 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.upenn.edu/coglianese

Jennifer Nash

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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