Voluntary Environmental Programs: Assessing Their Effectiveness

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Voluntary environmental programs (VEPs) seek to improve the environment by encouraging, rather than mandating, businesses and other organizations to adopt environmentally protective measures. Since the 1990s, VEPs established by industry, government, and nongovernmental organizations have proliferated around the globe, raising the question of how effective these programs are in securing environmental protection, both on their own and in comparison to traditional mandatory regulations. This article reviews the emerging research literature on VEPs, describing the variation in their structures, providing a framework for assessing their impacts, and summarizing what is known about why organizations engage in voluntary environmental action and what effects these programs have on environmental quality.


beyond compliance behavior, business-government partnerships, environmental agreements, environmental leadership programs, environmental policy, program evaluation

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Annual Review of Environmental Resources