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How environmental protection agencies can promote eco-innovation: The prospect of voluntary reciprocal legitimacy

Chris Ball, George Burt, Frans De Vries and Erik MacEachern

Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 2018, vol. 129, issue C, 242-253

Abstract: This paper examines the UK and Irish Environmental Protection Agencies (EPAs) ability to move beyond regulatory compliance to support and promote sustainable environmental innovation, in short “eco-innovation”. To do so would require them to overcome the perception that they face, often being perceived as ‘policemen’ by the regulated business community. We propose a new empirically-derived theoretical construct called Voluntary Reciprocal Legitimacy (VRL), defined as the development of mutual trust between the regulator and business resulting in arrangements which generate eco-innovation benefits for the regulator, the regulated business communities and society at large. VRL adds a new category to Suchman's (1995) theory of moral legitimacy as well as highlights how EPAs can build trust between themselves and regulated business, allowing a shift of the ‘beyond compliance’ legislative boundary. Such an approach supports eco-innovation whilst simultaneously protecting the natural environment.

Keywords: Environmental protection agencies; Environmental innovation; Sustainability; Voluntary reciprocal legitimacy; Sustainable growth (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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