Katie Harvey

Corporate Pressure Makes Regime Diamonds: An Analysis of the Impact of Multinational Corporations on International Environmental Regime Effectiveness

April 3, 2021   /  

Name: Katie Harvey
Major: Global and International Studies
Minor: Environmental Studies
Advisors: Dr. John Valdez, Dr. Matt Krain

Despite the tendency for multinational corporations to overexploit natural resources and pollute the Earth, the immense power of capital in a globalizing world has presented a unique opportunity for corporations to become drivers of positive global environmental change, particularly in the realm of global climate governance. To make sense of this puzzle, this study asks how does an international environmental regime’s relationship to the economic marketplace impact its institutional and ecological effectiveness?Through a comparative case study, this project analyzes the historical context, market interactions, and outcomes of four distinct instances of global environmental governance: the stratospheric ozone regime, the climate change regime, the global oceanic regime, and the biodiversity regime.By using indicators from both traditional and contemporary political regime theory literature, each regime is coded as market-enabling or regulatory and its effectiveness is evaluated. These narratives indicate that both market-enabling regimes and regulatory regimes alike may face pushback from state and corporate actors that compromises the regime’s institutional and ecological effectiveness. However, the oppositional stance of corporations may change when the cost of defecting from regime provisions exceeds the cost of compliance. Market-enabling features, coupled with relevant technological advancements, legal enforcement mechanisms, and a concentrated regime structure, establish conditions under which corporations may choose to abide by environmental regime provisions.

Katie will be online to field comments on April 16:
8am-noon EDT

57 thoughts on “Corporate Pressure Makes Regime Diamonds: An Analysis of the Impact of Multinational Corporations on International Environmental Regime Effectiveness”

  1. Hi Katie! So cool to see how well your project came together after hearing bits of it when you TA’d for PSCI 401 in the fall. Congrats on completing this important work!

    1. Thank you so much, Dr. Bos! It was a pleasure (and a blast) getting to work with you this fall in Jr. IS.

  2. Congratulations Katie! What an awesome project you have encapsulated. I can’t imagine the hard work you’ve done! I love it that you mentioned your mom in the completion of it. God bless you. Love, Aunt Tessie

    1. Thanks so much for checking my project out! It means the world to me that I’ve got such a wonderful support system behind me. Sending love to you!

  3. Such an amazing project! You mention the substitutability of technology as a point of consideration in your conclusion. Say the technology is replaced which reduces costs substantially, how does this effect the response of industry actors?

    1. In looking at the stratospheric ozone and climate change cases, it became really clear that low-cost technology substitutes were a driving force in the positional change of industry actors. For the strat. ozone case, industry leaders, like DuPont, were able to develop feasible and (eventually) low-cost technologies to replace the production of CFCs and other harmful substances. While it took some time, the regulations imposed by the Montreal Protocol in 1987 made the production of these substitutes attractive for the majority of industry actors and drove the market away from CFCs. On the other hand, the climate change case has shown that without low-cost technological substitutes to highly-pollutant practices, the industry will continue with its business as usual. There are existing technologies (like solar, hydro, and geothermal energy) that could facilitate this shift away from widespread greenhouse gas emissions but are simply too costly at this point in time to be attractive for industry actors.
      This is an awesome question and an interesting overlap of our two projects! 😉

  4. Katie – You have done a great job in the video in distilling down your theoretically rich and detailed study into its key points. It was such a joy to be able to see this project take its initial shape at the start of 40101 (Junior IS), and to see how successfully you were able to bring your vision to fruition. I also think that this is such a timely and pressing set of questions for environmental public policy and activism, and for corporate behavior. What does your study tell you about how likely it is that corporate action might help mitigate future global environmental issues? Are there ways that the international system, states, or citizens can shape the incentives to spur on pro-environmental action on the part of MNCs?

    1. Hi Dr. Krain! I endlessly appreciate your mentorship both throughout the course of this project and my time at Wooster.
      As the title of my research suggests, the pressure from industry actors certainly plays a role in the success of environmental regimes. As the international system stands currently, their tendencies will certainly play a role in how international environmental regimes are thought out, constructed, and implemented in the future.
      However, you bring up an excellent point. Industry actors are responsive, not only to shifts in the markets and technologies, but to the behavior of consumers. While it was outside the scope of my study to delve further into corporate social/environmental responsibility, existing research suggests social movements (whether environmental or not) are capable of applying pressure on corporations and causing shifts in business strategy. Even as individual consumers, we have the ability to make choices that influence the wider strategies of multinational corporations and can, in turn, impact the effectiveness of international environmental policy. Pretty cool!

      Thanks for the question!

  5. Amazing job Harvey!! I love hearing your intelligent and soothing voice! Did you make those drawings on your slides? I’m so proud of you and congratulations!

    1. Hi Rose! Buddy ol pal! Thanks so much for taking the time to look through my project! I sadly did not make the little drawings but they’re still pretty cool, no? Also, thank you for the compliment on my soothing voice. If my political science career fails, maybe I’ll make sleep podcasts instead!

  6. Congratulations Katie!! What an amazing project! I was curious as to how you chose your four case studies; once you identified the requisite variables, what was the process of selecting particular environmental regimes? Further, how did you end of measuring institutional effectiveness?

    1. Hey, Shankar! Thanks for stopping by. The process for choosing my cases took place over the course of the whole first semester. As I combed through existing research for my literature review, I compiled a list of seventeen commonly cited international environmental regimes. This list could be categorized into regimes that involved wider global action, such as the hazardous waste regime, or narrower regional action, such as the pan-European air pollution regime. Taking the nine global regimes on the list, I looked to the cases of with markedly similar calibers of problems, comparable periods of regime formation and development, and available data. Because of the small population of cases to begin with, there were variables that I could not have possibly controlled for. However, the similarities led me to select four cases: the stratospheric ozone regime, the climate change regime, the global oceans regime, and the biodiversity regime.
      As for the measure of institutional effectiveness, I created a scoring system using four indicators of institutional functionality. A regime scored points (1) if its agreement was completed on a prescribed timeline, (2) if the institutional framework had been revisited at least once since its original inception, (3) if there were legal enforcement mechanisms in place, and (4) if the
      regime featured mechanisms for the generation and widespread distribution of information.

  7. Dear Katie,
    You continue to “wow” me everyday!
    Have you come across any particular businesses that are currently committed to environmental mindfulness that I should especially support as a private individual? Much love!

    1. Hi! Thanks for coming to check out my project. You’re so sweet, and I’m thankful for you every day! Because my research dealt a lot with industries that rely on highly-pollutant practices (like chemical, shipping, and energy companies), it has been difficult to pinpoint particularly environmentally conscious ones. However, as consumers, when we have the option to buy food, clothing, and other goods locally, our personal contribution to these practices is minimized. There’s no perfect way to do this, but we can take small steps to reduce our environmental footprint.

  8. Harvey! You’re amazing & I’m so proud of you and the work you put into this project. Which case study was the most interesting to do research on? If you had to redo IS, would you change out any of your case studies?

    1. Hi Meg! You’re an inspiration to me. I would say that the most interesting case was the stratospheric ozone. This regime has widely been recognized as the most successful instance of environmental governance (and the Montreal Protocol is the only UN Treaty to have been ratified by all UN member states). Because it was so effective, both in an institutional and ecological sense, it was really insightful in looking at my variables of interest. Honestly, I am not sure if I would have switched out any of my cases. They each provided a solid example of global environmental governance and created a valuable analysis when taken together.

  9. Congratulations, Katie! This is such a cool combination of your major/minor and so timely. It’s been a pleasure walking around campus approximately 860,066,434 times with you and clipboards, and I’m excited to see what’s next for you!

    1. It’s been such a blast getting to patrol campus over and over again with you, Maya! Thanks for taking the time to check out my project!

  10. Hi Katie! Congrats on finishing your IS! It’s such a cool topic (that I will definitely be referencing on future tours!).

    Given your research, what form do you think future environmental regimes ought to take in order to be most effective?

    1. Hi Riley! Thanks for taking the time to stop by today. Based on my study, it seems that regimes with enforceable regulations can increase the cost of defection for businesses and make technological substitutes more feasible and economically attractive. For example, the Montreal Protocol (within the stratospheric ozone regime) applied legally enforceable regulations on states and corporations who were producing and consuming CFCs and other ozone depleting substances (ODSs). This pressure in the late 1980s pushed industry leaders to research and develop substitute technologies and today, the entire industry has shifted away from ODS use. Because the strict ODS regulations made the cost of defecting more expensive than the cost of compliance, the industry completed a long, but successful shift toward more environmentally friendly practices.
      Thanks for the question!

  11. Excellent work, Katie! You really provide a great example of how important an interdisciplinary approach is for environmental research. Well done.

    1. Thank you so much, Dr. Holt! I’m so thankful that I had the chance to explore interdisciplinary work through the Global and International Studies program!

  12. Absolutely awesome Katie! Super interesting and very well presented. Brilliantly done! So proud of you! 🙂

  13. Excellent presentation, Katie. It was an honor to work with you last summer on our AMRE project and look at how much you have accomplished with your IS. Regarding your presentation, would mind giving me a quick example of some legal enforcement mechanisms for the regime?

    1. Hi Andreas! Thanks for stopping by my symposium page. Absolutely! One example of legal enforcement mechanisms would be the non-compliance procedure of the Montreal Protocol. Essentially, when each state signed onto the Protocol, it would agreed to a personal set of punishments that could be imposed against it in the case that they were not following regulations. It differs from state to state, but could be sanctions or a loss of rights or responsibilities at the international convention.

  14. Katie, you never cease to amaze me and make me proud. Your level of passion for things that matter will continue to make our world a better place for all. Great job on your thesis and the video. Your talents shine through!

    Congratulations on a job well done!

  15. Congratulations, Katie! It’s been amazing to see where this idea has gone. Great project and great presentation.

  16. Congratulations Katie, and wonderful presentation! What a fabulous way to combine your major with your passion for environmental studies. I’m sure this will become a fan favorite GIS IS example to be used on tours for many years to come!

    1. Awh, Georgia! Thank you for stopping by and checking my project out. It’d definitely be the greatest honor for my IS to live on in the Admissions office!

  17. Congratulations, Katie, on this impressive work on such an important topic! It was wonderful working with you in AMRE last summer, and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors!

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Dr. Freeze! And big thanks for all of your guidance this past summer through AMRE!

  18. Love the shout outs! Great work and presentation. I enjoyed hearing about the combo of your major/minor. You are going to do big things!

  19. What a cool set of distinctions and analysis! I feel smarter having listened to you! Amazing!

  20. Harvey you are so smart! I can’t wait to support you and your fight for the environment!

  21. Great work, Katie! This is such an interesting project. It’s great to see what you’ve done.

  22. Congrats Harvey! You’re an incredible student and athlete and it’s so great to see all of your hard work pay off.

  23. This is such an interesting topic–how have we not talked about this during an admissions shift??? Best of luck with everything after graduation!

  24. Congrats Harvest! You continue to astound me…this is such important research that we need right now!!
    My hero 🙂

  25. Hi Katie!

    What an interesting perspective on business, environment and culture! Hopefully energy research and eco friendly products can help drive the global community forward. Do you have one idea that you think would a common item or business piece that would be a good first target to step in the right direction towards a more conscious community?

    Congrats and good luck with your next step!

  26. Your topic was so interesting to hear and learn about! I can’t wait to see what you do in the future. Love you Harvey!

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