focusgroup; survey; policy; experiment; CSR; stakeholders; consumers; Behaviour
Kolcava Dennis, Rudolph Lukas, Bernauer Thomas (2021), Citizen preferences on private-public co-regulation in environmental governance: Evidence from Switzerland, in Global Environmental Change
, 68, 102226-102226.
Kolcava Dennis, Rudolph Lukas, Bernauer Thomas (2021), Voluntary business initiatives can reduce public pressure for regulating firm behaviour abroad, in Journal of European Public Policy
, 28(4), 591-614.
Kolcava Dennis, Scholderer Joachim, Bernauer Thomas (2021), Do citizens provide political rewards to firms engaging in voluntary environmental action?, in Journal of Cleaner Production
, 279, 123564-123564.
Kolcava Dennis, Bernauer Thomas (2021), Greening the Economy through Voluntary Private Sector Initiatives or Government Regulation? A Public Opinion Perspective, in Environmental Science & Policy
, 115, 61-70.
Kolcava Dennis, Nguyen Quynh, Bernauer Thomas (2019), Does trade liberalization lead to environmental burden shifting in the global economy?, in Ecological Economics
, 163, 98-112.
Making progress towards an ecologically more sustainable economy requires major attitudinal and behavioural changes both on the supply (producer) and the demand (consumer) side. The Swiss government’s Action Plan 2013 to that end and its further development for 2016-2019, like other countries and international institutions’ action plans, places strong emphasis on voluntary initiatives for that purpose, and above all on voluntary measures adopted by the private sector. However, whether and to what extent such voluntary private sector (henceforth named Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR) initiatives can contribute to a more sustainable economy remains uncertain and disputed. This is because we know rather little about how such CSR measures affect the demand side, both in terms of public demand by stakeholders and citizens (the mass public) for stricter government-led policies, and in terms of consumer attitudes and behaviour. In principle, CSR initiatives could help enhance environmental standards across the economy, both driven bottom-up and via more ambitious government laws and regulations. But such initiatives could also weaken stakeholder and mass public pressure for stricter government intervention and crowd out voluntary pro-environmental attitudes and behaviour among consumers. Using a combination of focus group research and survey-embedded experiments, the proposed project focuses on how CSR initiatives could affect the environmental policy preferences of citizens, civil society actors, and policy-makers, as well as consumers’ environmental attitudes and behaviour. The envisaged research results will provide policy-makers, the private sector, and citizens with a better understanding of the role voluntary private sector initiatives could play in making progress towards an ecologically more sustainable economy, and improve understanding of the limitations and unintended side-effects of placing great emphasis on voluntary measures. Such knowledge can help policy-makers and stakeholders encourage firms to implement CSR initiatives that avoid crowding out- and achieve environmental policy-enhancing effects, thus creating positive synergies with government-led green economy strategies and measures.The specific objectives of the proposed research derive from the uncertainty and lack of understanding of how voluntary initiatives on the supply side affect the demand side. The objectives are to:•examine how green economy CSR initiatives affect demand (preferences) among citizens and stakeholders (e.g. environmental pressure groups) for stricter environmental monitoring and standard setting by government, and whether such effects differ across environmental issues and types and ambition levels of CSR initiatives.•examine how CSR initiatives affect pro-environmental attitudes and consumers’ (purchasing) behaviour.New insights into these issues can help policy-makers, civil society, and the private sector identify types of CSR initiatives that synergize with government monitoring and standard setting, and encourage pro-environmental attitudes, policy-preferences, and consumer behaviour.