Promoting change from the outside: directing managerial attention in the implementation of environmental improvements

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Regulatory agencies, auditing firms, and supply chain partners externally promote change in firms. To this end, they commonly employ two di erent and somewhat contradictory intervention approaches. One approach uses punitive tactics to coerce firms to change, while the other approach uses supportive tactics to encourage change. Using the context of government agencies promoting environmental improvements in firms, we examine whether such punitive (e.g., regulatory inspections with possible sanctions) and supportive (e.g., environmental assistance, improvement recommendations) tactics can be administered in a complementary manner. Using a unique and novel longitudinal data set collected from two state-level environmental agencies in Minnesota, we analyze over 1,000 supportive environmental improvement (EI) projects in combination with intermittent (but currently uncoordinated) punitive tactics. One key finding from our research is that the timing, severity, and relatedness of punitive tactics is critical for directing managerial attention and thus improving the e cacy of supportive tactics (i.e., EI implementation). Contingent on their timing, inspections can increase EI implementation rates by up to 60% but can also reduce implementation rates by up to 50% compared with EIs in facilities that do not experience inspections. Classifying regulatory inspections as (1) either clean or adverse and (2) either related or unrelated allows us to further explain the influence of such punitive tactics on EI implementation. Finally, we provide evidence for a positive e ect of successful EI implementation on long-term environmental compliance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2535-2556
Number of pages22
JournalManagement Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Promoting change from the outside: directing managerial attention in the implementation of environmental improvements'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this