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Why firms participate in environmental voluntary initiatives : case studies in Japan and Canada Takahashi, Takuya

Abstract

Voluntary initiatives such as eco-certification and challenge programs are new policy tools that attempt to ameliorate environmental and sustainable development problems by relying on firms' voluntary efforts. While more traditional policy tools such as command-and-control regulations and market-based instruments have attracted the attention of social scientists, voluntary initiatives have received much less attention from researchers and still require further empirical investigation and theoretical grounding. As a first step to understanding voluntary initiatives, this dissertation empirically investigates the mechanisms behind firms' decisions to participate in voluntary initiatives. First, the dissertation investigates the antecedents for manufacturing firms' seeking ISO 14001 environmental management systems certification in Japan, a country with the largest number of ISO 14001-certified sites in the world. The results show that the decisions of Japanese firms to seek ISO 14001 certification are significantly affected by the firm size, average age of employees, export ratios and debt ratios. Other studies also underscore the importance of international trade to Japanese manufacturers in seeking ISO 14001 certification. Secondly, the dissertation looks into the antecedents for forest products companies' seeking forest certification in Canada, one of the major forest products producers in the world. Specifically, three major forest certification schemes are considered: (1) ISO 14001, (2) the Canadian Standards Association Sustainable Forest Management certification, and (3) the Forest Stewardship Council certification. The estimation of empirical models shows that the decisions of Canadian forest firms to seek forest certification are, in general, affected by export intensity; in the case of ISO 14001, they are also affected by reliance on secure tenure holdings. Thirdly, the dissertation examines the antecedents for Canadian industrial firms' participation in the Voluntary Challenge and Registry (VCR) Program, Canada's voluntary challenge program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change. The results show that larger firms and those in the energy-intensive sector are more committed to climate change mitigation. In this case, anticipation of future government policies seems to play a major role in firms' participation in the challenge program.

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