The thin green line: Examining environmental regulation and environmental offending from multiple perspectives

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Regulatory and criminological research has long tried to understand environmental offending from the perspectives of offenders and regulators. Often neglected is how these two parties perceive each other—in other words, how do regulatory actors think about decision-making in the context of their interactions? Building on prior research that finds discrepancies in the perceptions of regulators and the regulated community (e.g., May and Wood, 2003; Mascini and Wijk, 2009), the current study uses a randomized vignette survey to assess how both parties weigh various factors in two hypothetical scenarios. In one scenario, we depict a regulator issuing a citation to a noncompliant corporation. In another, we depict a compliance manager engaging in noncompliance. We find that regulators and the regulated community differ in whether they would engage in such behaviors and why. Examining how regulatory actors understand their roles does much to inform policymaking and theories of corporate environmental offending.


Corporate crime; Environmental crime; Regulation; Responsive regulation; Rational choice theory; Randomized vignette

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