What drives and curbs brownwashing?

Yinglin Huang, Claude Francoeur, Stephen Brammer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (SciVal)


Numerous studies have investigated the factors that drive or curb greenwashing activities, but few have discussed the other side of the coin, brownwashing, the underreporting of environmental achievements, another form of corporate decoupling that is harmful for stakeholders. Using a sample of 5459 firm–year observations over the period 2007–2017, this study tests and finds that industry leaders brownwash their environmental performance to avoid peer pressure and excessive stakeholder attention, and to preserve their firm's leadership. Consequently, legitimate firms tend to converge toward informal industry standards that engender standardized environmental disclosures. Nevertheless, this phenomenon can be curbed by adopting sound environmental governance mechanisms aimed at improving corporate transparency and environmental practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2518-2532
Number of pages15
JournalBusiness Strategy and the Environment
Issue number5
Early online date22 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2022


  • brownwashing
  • environmental practices
  • governance
  • greenwashing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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