Journal of Nanoparticle Research

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 1499–1512 | Cite as

Nanotechnology, voluntary oversight, and corporate social performance: does company size matter?

  • Jennifer KuzmaEmail author
  • Aliya Kuzhabekova
Special focus: Governance of Nanobiotechnology


In this article, we examine voluntary oversight programs for nanotechnology in the context of corporate social performance (CSP) in order to better understand the drivers, barriers, and forms of company participation in such programs. At the theoretical level, we use the management framework of CSP to understand the voluntary behavior of companies. At the empirical level, we investigate nanotech industry participation in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program (NMSP) as an example of CSP, in order to examine the effects of company characteristics on CSP outcomes. The analysis demonstrates that, on the average, older and larger companies for which nanotech is one of the many business activities demonstrate greater CSP as judged by company actions, declarations, and self-evaluations. Such companies tended to submit more of the requested information to the NMSP, including specific information about health and safety, and to claim fewer of the submitted items as confidential business information. They were also more likely to have on-line statements of generic and nano-specific corporate social responsibility principles, policies, and achievements. The article suggests a need to encourage smaller and younger companies to participate in voluntary oversight programs for nanotechnology and presents options for better design of these programs.


Nanotechnology Oversight Corporate social responsibility Governance 



Preparation of this article was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) grant #0608791, “NIRT: Evaluating Oversight Models for Active Nanostructures and Nanosystems: Learning from Past Technologies in a Societal Context” (Principal Investigator: S. M. Wolf; Co-PIs: E. Kokkoli, J. Kuzma, J. Paradise, and G. Ramachandran) and the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF or the Institute on the Environment.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Science, Technology and Public Policy, Hubert Humphrey Institute for Public AffairsUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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