Corporate self-policing and the environment

Paul B. Stretesky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Self-Policing Policy (more commonly referred to as the Audit Policy) waives or reduces penalties when regulated entities voluntarily discover, disclose, and correct environmental violations. This study draws upon a rational choice model of corporate crime to determine if traditional regulatory efforts such as inspections and enforcement actions are associated with the odds of disclosing an environmental violation under the Audit Policy. A case control design is used to compare companies that self-police to companies that do not self-police. The event group consists of all 551 companies that disclosed at least one environmental violation under the Audit Policy between October 1, 1998 and September 30, 2000. The control group consists of a simple random sample of 551 companies that did not use the Audit Policy but were discovered to have violated at least one environmental law during the same time period as the event group. There is no evidence that inspections and enforcement increase Audit Policy use. However, the results do suggest, first, that the Audit Policy is more likely to be used by large companies than by small companies and, second, that it is likely to be used for reporting violations as opposed to more serious emissions or permit violations. In terms of public policy these findings suggest that regulatory agencies such as the EPA can do relatively little to increase the self-policing of environmental violations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-708
Number of pages38
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006


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