Voluntary Environmental Initiatives: Sponsorship and Stakeholder Involvement
Mil-Homens, Joao Loureiro
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Voluntary environmental initiatives (VEIs) promise to provide firms and facilities additional flexibility and motivation in managing their environmental affairs in part by reducing compliance and enforcement costs and improving their public image. As a result, since 1990, over 13,000 organizations have participated in more than 100 US and international VEIs. In order for these initiatives to be successful, they need to be implemented following good practice guidelines, reliable enforcement mechanisms, appropriate monitoring, reporting, transparency, and public information availability. All of these activities may be contingent on high levels of stakeholder participation. Little is known, however, about how different stakeholders have been involved in the development of these programs and how this participation varies for different types of VEIs. By conducting an Internet based survey to 63 VEI managers, this research examines the diversity and intensity of stakeholder participation in the design and implementation of VEIs relative to sponsorship. This study concluded that VEIs developed by a partnership between different organizations had the largest number of different types of stakeholders involved. Yet, industry and government sponsored initiatives had a number of different types of participants very close to what occurred in the design of partnership VEIs. Third-party initiatives had the lowest diversity of participants involved in the design of their programs. This pattern illustrates that the VEI sponsors traditionally more susceptible to criticism in terms of credibility are the ones more concerned with stakeholder involvement in the development of their initiatives. As for the role of specific stakeholders, it was observed that government sponsored VEIs had a higher degree of involvement from industry associations than from any other stakeholder. Even if the degree of involvement by non-profit organizations was not considerably lower than by industry associations, the existing difference supports the critique that government VEIs are generally developed in a tighter cooperation with the private sector and sometimes without the collaboration of the civil society. As for third-party initiatives, it was observed that the industry sector had a higher degree of involvement than the government.
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