Self-regulation and Regulatory Discretion: Why Firms May Be Reluctant to Signal Green

John W. Maxwell (IU Kelley School of Business)

Abstract: Firms with low compliance costs confront a tradeoff regarding self-regulation. They can blend in with the rest of the industry, and take few self-regulatory steps. This reduces the risk of regulation somewhat, and preserves their ability to obtain regulatory flexibility should regulation be imposed. Alternatively, they can step up with substantial self-regulation. This better mitigates the risk of regulation, but at the risk of signaling low costs and becoming a target for stringent enforcement should regulation pass.

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