Policy Sciences

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 107-127

First online:

Chief executive officers and voluntary environmental performance: Costa Rica's certification for sustainable tourism

  • Jorge RiveraAffiliated withStrategic Management & Public Policy, George Washington University Email author 
  • , Peter De LeonAffiliated withGraduate School of Public Affairs, The University of Colorado

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This study evaluates whether the education, environmental expertise, and nationality of firms' chief executive officers (CEOs) are associated with greater participation and environmental performance in a voluntary environmental program implemented in a developing nation. Specifically, we collected data from the Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) program, a voluntary initiative aimed at promoting beyond-compliance environmental performance by hotels operating in Costa Rica. Our findings suggest that CEOs' level of formal education and environmental expertise appear to be significantly associated with higher corporate participation in voluntary programs and also with higher beyond-compliance environmental performance ratings. Contrary to conventional expectations, CEOs from industrialized countries (as opposed to developing countries) do not appear to show a statistically significant association with participation in the CST program and with higher beyond-compliance environmental performance.