The strategic use of innovation to influence regulatory standards

This paper investigates the welfare consequences of strategic behavior by firms to affect the amount of environmental regulation they face. Environmental regulation often attempts to force an industry to develop cleaner technology, but the regulator may have no means to commit to a specific standard. This lack of regulatory commitment induces firms to choose innovation strategically. It is well-known that firms have incentives to suppress innovation to induce the regulator to ratchet down the standard, and this strategic behavior lowers welfare. This paper explores a countervailing incentive. In oligopoly settings, firms have heightened incentives to innovate so as to increase regulation and raise rivals costs. In equilibrium, the incentive to raise rivals cost can mitigate the welfare loss arising from no regulatory commitment. Also, a regulator who is unable to commit ex ante to the stringency of a regulatory standard can induce more clean technology than a regulator with a commitment mechanism.


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Environmental regulation, Innovation, Rules versus discretion

Additional information:

AuthorsPuller, Steven L. (Dept of Economics Texas A&M University, USA)
Publisher:Elsevier Inc.
Keywords:Environmental regulation, Innovation, Rules versus discretion
Last update:2005