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Management-Based Strategies for Improving Private-Sector Environmental Performance

January 2006

Citation: 36 ELR 10003

Issue: 1

Author: Cary Coglianese and Jennifer Nash

Editors' Summary: Improvements in environmental quality depend in large measure on changes in private-sector management. In recognition of this fact, government and industry have begun in recent years to focus directly on shaping the internal management practices of private firms. New managementbased strategies can take many forms, but unlike conventional regulatory approaches they are linked by their distinctive focus on management practices rather than on environmental technologies or emissions targets. This Article offers the first sustained treatment of both public- and private-sector initiatives focused specifically on improving firms' environmental management. Synthesizing the results of a conference of leading scholars and policymakers organized by the Regulatory Policy Program at Harvard University, Cary Coglianese and Jennifer Nash consider whether management-based strategies can lead to improved environmental outcomes and, if so, how they should be designed to be most effective. They report research findings showing that management-based strategies can yield improvements in industry's environmental performance, indicating that anyone concerned about environmental quality should seriously consider the use of these strategies. Nevertheless, the authors urge caution about overstating what can be accomplished through management-based strategies, as they will not always lead to significant change in private-sector firms' environmental performance. Although management-based strategies are unlikely to become the mainstay of society's approach to environmental protection, they nevertheless deserve greater consideration because of the positive contribution they can make in certain circumstances.

Cary Coglianese is Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and Chair of the Regulatory Policy Program at the School's Center for Business and Government. His interdisciplinary research focuses on issues of regulation and administrative law, with a particular emphasis on the empirical evaluation of alternative and innovative regulatory strategies and the role of disputing and negotiation in regulatory policymaking. His work has appeared in, among other journals, the Administrative Law Review, Duke Law Journal, Law & Society Review, Michigan Law Review, Stanford Law Review, and University of Pennsylvania Law Review. He is the founder and co-chair of the Law & Society Association's international collaborative research network on regulatory governance, vice chair of the e-rulemaking committee of the American Bar Association's (ABA's) Administrative and Regulatory Practice Section, and vice chair of the Committee on Innovation, Management Systems, and Trading of the ABA's Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources. He has also been a visiting professor of law at Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Vanderbilt University. He is a recipient of two Resources for the Future (RFF) fellowships in regulatory implementation as well as the American Political Science Association's Edward S. Corwin Award for his research on environmental litigation. He received his J.D., M.P.P., and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and is a member of the bar of the state of Michigan and the U.S. Supreme Court. Jennifer Nash is Director of the Regulatory Policy Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She conducts empirical research on emerging trends in government regulation and industry self-regulation. She has published on a variety of environmental management and policy topics in journals such as: Administrative Law Review; Annual Review of Energy and the Environment; Business, Strategy, and the Environment; California Management Review; and Environment. Her current research explores the effectiveness of performance- and management-based regulatory strategies in achieving policy goals, the role of voluntary programs in improving the environmental performance of firms, and the impact of industry codes on corporate social responsibility. Coglianese and Nash coedited Regulating From the Inside: Can Environmental Management Systems Achieve Policy Goals? (2001), the first book to examine the policy implications of emerging trends in private-sector environmental management. They are currently co-editing a second volume, Leveraging the Private Sector: Management-Based Strategies for Improving Environmental Performance, to be published by RFF Press later this year and which will include the research discussed in this Article. The authors acknowledge support from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation Grant No. R-83056701, American Chemistry Council, RFF/RFF Press, the Multi-State Working Group Policy Academy, and the Center for Business and Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. They also appreciate research assistance by Ben Gerber and helpful comments from Terry Davies, Donald Elliott, and Tom Lyon. This Article represents the authors' synthesis of the perspectives that emerged at a 2003 workshop sponsored by the Regulatory Policy Program and does not necessarily reflect the views of all the workshop participants. In order to facilitate open dialogue at the workshop, discussion was held on a not-for-attribution basis, so statements and ideas contained in this Article are for that reason not identified here with the names of specific workshop participants. The appendix to this Article, however, contains a list of all the individuals who participated in the workshop.

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