Friday, November 7, 2014: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Enchantment Ballroom D (Hyatt)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Tyler Scott, University of Washington
Panel Chairs: Dorothy Daley, University of Kansas
Discussants: Daniel Matisoff, Georgia Institute of Technology
Non-regulatory environmental policies are popular and increasingly employed by policy-makers. Relative to traditional ‘command-and-control’ enforcement, these alternative approaches have many desirable properties, but only if they are properly designed. This panel takes up the challenge of institutional design, focusing on the overarching question of how non-regulatory policies fit their social and political circumstances. In other words, how can these policy tools best be structured and supported to improve environmental outcomes? This panel examines these questions in four papers focusing on three important non-regulatory policies: (1) environmental certifications; (2) local sustainability programs; and (3) stakeholder grants. Each paper advances theory about these tools and submits it to rigorous, large sample empirical analysis.
The first and second papers examine voluntary environmental programs (VEPs), specifically environmental certifications. Effective VEPs facilitate exchanges in which firms increase their production of environmentally friendly goods in return for financial and nonfinancial rewards. Empirical studies suggest VEPs do not always live up to this lofty promise, but there has been little analysis of the institutional design of these programs despite considerable theoretical analyses that describe the hazards of VEPs’ shortcomings. The first paper applies club theory to design rules of more than 400 VEPs worldwide that are sponsored by government, industry and nonprofits. The findings reveal considerable variability across VEPs, and identify issues can threaten the viability of VEPs as a tool for environmental protection. The second paper examines a collective VEP, which requires joint application and in which certification is shared amongst multiple organizations. Using a random effects logit model, the authors examine how community social and economic characteristics affect collective VEP participation in 281 communities over the course of 7 years. The results identify community level characteristics that lead to higher levels of multi-sector cooperation.
The third paper draws upon data from the 2010 ICMA Local Government Sustainability Policies and Programs Survey to examine how the comprehensiveness of non-regulatory environmental programs (NREPs) is affected by procedural characteristics regarding stakeholder inclusion and involvement. Scholars have suggested that NREP comprehensiveness is particularly salient for program success. While thousands of local governments employ NREPs, there has been little assessment as to how stakeholder involvement affects comprehensiveness. Empirical analyses indicate that by including residential stakeholders who represent a range of economic conditions, as well regulatory stakeholders, local governments are more likely to design NREPs in a comprehensive way, and thus improve environmental quality.
The fourth paper analyzes the environmental impacts associated with grants given to 87 watershed councils in Oregon from 1997 to 2013. There are strong theoretical reasons to suggest that such grants, given to stakeholder groups for purposes such as capacity building and outreach, have indirect, long-term environmental benefits. Using a Bayesian repeated-measurement multilevel model, the author models the temporal relationship between grant receipt and watershed condition. Water quality and habitat metrics are regressed on grant characteristics (e.g., purpose, duration). The three-level model nests time-specific observations within watersheds and watersheds within basins. This analysis provides empirical evidence of how grant design and purpose relates to environmental outcomes.