Voluntary engagement in environmental projects: evidence from environmental violators

Gladys Lee, Xinning Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


An important question in the business ethics literature concerns organizational response in the aftermath of an unethical business practice. This study examines factors affecting firms’ decision to take reparative action in the aftermath of an environmental violation. Specifically, we investigate environmental violators’ decision to undertake a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP), which is an initiative that promotes restorative justice. To settle an environmental violation, the United States’ environmental regulator allows offenders the option of either paying the full penalty or a reduced sum while spending additional effort and engaging in an environmental project. As predicted, we find that firms with poorer past environmental performance and greater shareholder environmental activism are more likely to engage and invest in a SEP. Additionally, there is a stronger association between shareholder activism and SEP investment when firms have poorer past environmental performance. Our findings inform regulators, stakeholders, and business ethics researchers on the factors that lead firms to undertake reparative action following unethical business practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-348
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • CSR
  • Environmental violation
  • Legitimation
  • Restorative justice
  • Supplemental Environmental Project

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