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Zdravka Tzankova

Research Associate Professor of Sociology
Lecturer in Sociology

What are the social and public policy implications of corporate environmental commitments and actions? 

My research looks at the public policy and social equity implications of private environmental and climate governance. In the broad realm of private environmental governance, my work is specifically focused on the impacts and implications of corporate initiatives for operational and supply chain greening and decarbonization. 

On the question of public policy implications from private environmental governance by corporate actors: I examine a range of corporate initiatives for operational and supply chain greening, from sustainable agri-food sourcing initiatives and commitments to pledges for powering corporate operations with carbon-free electricity from renewable sources. I study these initiatives as a form of private regulation on ecologically problematic production practices by various corporate suppliers. And I examine the effects of such private regulatory pressures on the public regulatory governance of environmental issues and problems within corporate supply chains. 

On the question of social equity implications from private environmental governance by corporate actors: My current work focuses on developing new approaches for mobilizing carbon offsetting and corporate decarbonization as tools of environmental, health, and energy equity. This action-oriented research agenda is grounded in the scholarly analysis and synthesis of knowledge on the social equity spillovers of voluntary and private corporate climate action, particularly conditions conducive to generating positive versus negative equity spillovers. 

My current work on public policy, social, and environmental justice spillovers from private environmental and climate governance is part of a broader research agenda focused on the analysis and/or development of disruptive new approaches to solving persistent socio-ecological problems. My focus is on approaches that have the potential to disrupt multiply problematic yet change-resistant policy, regulatory, or institutional status quos, and set the stage for improved new governance regimes. 

This broader “disruptive tools and approaches” research agenda is centered along two distinct but intersecting axes of inquiry:  

  1. The disruptive performance and potential of private, market-based governance strategies   
  2. The disruptive use and potential of strategic, unusual litigation deployed as a context-shifting step within larger efforts to advance policy change in the face of political and institutional obstacles