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Stakeholder scrutiny, urban bias, and the private provision of public goods

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 November 2017


While many scholars have studied “urban bias” in public policy, the potential for bias in the private provision of public goods has received little attention. Private certification is a mechanism encouraging private provision of environmental public goods. We show that within countries, there are often wide disparities in certification rates between firms located in urban and non-urban areas. However, these disparities can be mitigated if there is a countervailing force: scrutiny of firms' practices by key stakeholders. We suggest that the presence of strong civil society, independent media, a functioning state regulatory apparatus, and multinational owners can ameliorate the urban bias in certification uptakes. We test this argument with global, firm-level data covering over 40,000 firms in ninety-three countries. Our analyses suggest that an urban bias is mitigated when stakeholders—both public and private—have the freedom and capacity to scrutinize firms' activities.

Research Article
Copyright © V.K. Aggarwal 2017 and published under exclusive license to Cambridge University Press 

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