Dr. Orr Karassin

Discipline: Public Policy

Expert in: Environmental law and policy

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Key words: circular economy, corporate social and environmental responsibility, environmental regulation  

What are you currently researching?
I am currently researching the policies devised by developed countries to steer their economies in more circular directions. The "circular economy" has become a euphemism for reducing our dependence on the extraction of raw materials and retaining the value of materials and products in the economy. This can be achieved by a variety of means, from the use of recycled materials, the design of more recyclable, reusable and durable products; the improvement of production methods and green consumer choices, and circular business models and the repair of used products or recycling of their materials. These are systemic changes to the linear economic system as currently exists. Government policy and regulation, as well as voluntary commitments made by industry are crucial for changing existing practices and creating the needed stimulus. After having researched the barriers to circular economy in Israel, I decided to address the issue more broadly and undertook a quantitative comparative study of policies and regulations related to the circular economy of plastics in 11 OECD countries and the EU. Studies are mapping the changes in the policy environment related to the circular economy of plastics from 2000-2021 and are quantifying the degree to which countries have adopted circular policies. This research is supported by GIF (German Israel Foundation for Scientific Research and Development)     

How did you become involved in your research field?
I am interested in the impacts corporations have on the environment and the way they relate to consumers and society at large. After completing a research project on corporate social responsibility and finding that public policy and regulation remain crucial to steering the economy in less harmful paths, I decided to embark on the circular economy research project. This project allows me to pursue my interests in the design of effective policies that positively impact circular economy; the ways in which regulation meets corporations and consumers trying to alter their behaviors, and the ways in which regulation can (or cannot) effectively change markets and the economy in sustainable ways.        

What inspired you to become a researcher?
I always had a passion for the environment, and as a third-year LLB student, I was a founding member of the Green Course, Israel's Environmental Student Union. I believe that environmental challenges are the most significant among the challenges faced by humankind, and that academia has an important role to play in providing valuable insights and knowledge-based solutions to the multitude of environmental challenges we face.   

Which of your research findings would you like to highlight?
My research on corporate social responsibility found that regulatory pressures were the most significant determinant of beyond compliance environmental performance of industrial firms, when addressed in a multilevel multivariate model. The model addressed over twelve additional variables, among them stakeholder expectations, organizational-level variables such as leadership and organizational culture, and individual-level variables such organizational civic behavior and organizational commitment. None of these variables were found to be more significant than regulation.

How does your research link to todays' challenges?
Circular economy has been adopted by both China and the EU as key tenets of their sustainability policy and in the EU it is part of the drive to a low carbon economy. Climate change is most probably our common most complex challenge to date (there is no vaccine against global warming). The successful advancement of circular economy practices is a key part of the transition to a low carbon and low waste economy.
What excites you regarding your research field?
My area of research is very applicable and can (as it has in the past) inform better decision making by governments and international organizations. It also provides an opportunity for learning across countries and policy spaces, which I am passionate about.