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2004 Stories

Professor Wins EPA Grant to Study Corporate Environmental Behavior

Professor Robert A. Kagan has received a $350,000 research grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate why some companies have better records controlling and preventing pollution than others. Kagan, who is both a faculty member in the law school's Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program and a professor of political science, will conduct the two-year study through the Center for the Study of Law and Society in collaboration with Neil Gunningham, a professor in the interdisciplinary School of Resources, Environment and Society at Australian National University, and Dorothy Thornton, a researcher at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health and a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Law and Society.

The project, "Explaining Variation in Corporate Environmental Behavior," will focus on 16 companies in California and Texas engaged in the metal finishing and dairy products industries. The work is an extension of Kagan's similar study of the pulp and paper industry, which led to the publication of Shades of Green: Business, Regulation and Environment (Stanford University Press 2003). That study showed that in the 1970s and '80s, demanding government regulation pushed firms to adopt costly technologies which produced major improvements in environmental performance. But today, Kagan and his colleagues found, social pressures generated by environmental groups and gradations in corporate management style are the most important factors in explaining variation in the environmental performance of firms and why many firms make environmental improvements beyond those needed for compliance.

The EPA is interested in advancing such research to gain insight into innovative approaches to environmental controls.


























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