Explaining and Improving the Adoption of Voluntary Environmental Programs: A Social Cognition-Based View on Program Design, Implementation and Evaluation

  •  Jasmin Kientzel    
  •  Gerjo Kok    


Voluntary Environmental Programs (VEPs) targeted at businesses are increasingly used as environmental and energy policy instruments. Numerous studies have focused on technological, economic, political, social and cultural factors that influence the success of a program. However, academic research and policy analysis have mostly focused on the impact and efficiency of programs while processes of VEP adoption and implementation that explain outcomes have been neglected to some extent. Recently, a growing body of research on environment and energy related behaviors has manifested. The study of factors influencing adoption behavior can contribute significantly to the understanding of VEP acceptance at the individual, organizational and societal level. In addition, limitations to voluntary program design and evaluation can be reduced by the application of behavioral and theory-based program planning. Social cognition models from social psychology and the technology acceptance literature show great potential to improve systematic understanding of VEP adoption behavior and enhance existing program design and evaluation methods. The present article adds to the existing academic literature and evaluation practice by reviewing social cognition-based models to further knowledge regarding VEP design, implementation and evaluation processes.

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