Title: Governance of Environmental Impacts of High-tech Industry in Developing Countries: Top-down versus Bottom-up Approaches
Author(s): Wen-Ching Chuang
Affiliation: Arizona State University
Presented At: STiS 2008
Primary Topic Area: Environmental Policy
The high technology industry is regarded as a major catalyst for growth in the newly emerging economies. However, governing the environmental impacts of this industry poses several challenges, particularly given the weak regulatory structure in these economies and the fierce competition to attract foreign investment. In this paper two alternative models of governing this industry are evaluated using the case of Taiwan as an example. In Taiwan, the high-tech industry is currently governed by a top-down regulatory structure. Several problems of this structure are discussed drawing upon data from government sources as well as some recent reports from non-governmental organizations. As opposed to the traditional smokestack pollution, the case of pollution from high tech industry is difficult to detect as it requires advanced scientific knowledge, equipment, and facilities. The problem is aggravated by the rapid pace of change in manufacturing processes which intensify the challenge of updating regulation in real time.
A bottom-up structure of environmental governance has the potential of overcoming some of these deficiencies. There are two ways to enforce a bottom-up regulation system - at the firm and/or the community level. The paper discusses several ways in which adequate incentives for voluntary disclosure and enforcement could be provided at the firm level. In addition, an increase in public participation and building of community pressure could also increase the incentives for pollution control at the firm level. Thus it could overcome some deficiencies of top-down governance and especially help countries with limited capacity in regulating high-tech industry pollution.