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June 17, 2010

Informing Green Markets: The Roles of Industry, NGOs and Government

The Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan is accepting submissions for a conference to be held in Ann Arbor June 17-19, 2010, on the topic: “Informing Green Markets: The Roles of Industry, NGOs, and Government.” 

The due date for submission of papers is April 1, which is rapidly approaching.

Thousands of products are now marketed based in part on environmental claims. But environmental groups warn that many such claims are nothing more than greenwash.  And indeed, market research shows the vast majority of these claims are incomplete or misleading.  Certification and ecolabeling can help overcome these problems, but the current proliferation of ecolabels risks creating consumer confusion rather than clarity.  What will really work in providing buyers with reliable and comprehensive information on the environmental and social impacts of products? 

The Erb Institute is collaborating with Duke University and the Sustainability Consortium to organize this workshop, which aims to provoke a “deep dive” discussion between the private sector, the public sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and academia around: 1) how green markets are likely to evolve, and 2) the appropriate roles of government regulation, corporate environmental claims, and external evaluations by NGOs. 

We invite submissions of papers that address the foregoing issues.  We are open to a variety of disciplines (including economics, political science, management, marketing, sociology, psychology, and public policy) and research styles (including formal models, insightful case studies, large-N empirical work, survey research, etc.)  Specific questions of interest include:

  • What are the respective roles of purchasing agents for retailers and government, vis a vis ultimate consumers?
  • How important are green ratings for companies vs. green ratings for products? 
  • How can purchasers be assured of the credibility of the information they receive?
  • Is product labeling a complement to or a substitute for government regulation?
  • Does the recent proliferation of ecolabels improve the marketplace or merely confuse it? 
  • Is competition between ecolabels beneficial?  Will market forces work to winnow down the number of ecolabels and harmonize those that remain? 
  • Do we need government to bring order to the current chaos?

Please submit completed papers by April 1, 2010, (early drafts are acceptable) by going here and following the instructions.  Questions may be addressed to conference coordinator Karen Houghtaling ecolabel2010@umich.edu or conference organizer Thomas P. Lyon at tplyon@umich.edu. 

Accepted papers will be announced by April 15, 2010.