Government and Environmental Innovation in Europe and North America
Author(s)Ashford, Nicholas A.
This article challenges certain tenets of the theories of reflexive law and ecological modernization. While far-sighted prevention-oriented and structural changes are needed, some proponents of these theories argue that the very industries and firms that create environmental problems can, through continuous institutional learning; the application of life cycle analysis; dialogue and networks with stakeholders; and implementation of "environmental management systems," be transformed into sustainable industries and firms. While useful, these reforms are insufficient. It is not marginal or incremental changes that are needed for sustainability, but rather major product, process, and system transformations – often beyond the capacity of the dominant industries and firms. This article also questions the alleged failure of regulation to stimulate needed technological changes, and identifies the conditions under which innovation for sustainability can occur. Finally, it discusses differences in needed policies for industrialized and developing countries.
ecological modernization, reflexive law, technological innovation, environmental regulation, voluntary agreements, negotiation