agents and the listening publics has frequently led to loss of trust and legitimacy. The public tends to hear declarations of broad goals as targets and looks for specific accomplishments when none were promised. Whatever processes are to be adopted in setting goals and targets, firms need to be very clear as to their distinctive nature in public disclosures in order to avoid negative consequences later.
Even with the potential down-side of setting goals and targets, there is still considerable value in the activity of goal-setting per se, regardless of outcome, because most players with environmental concerns believe that the setting of goals encourages a type of behavior that is favorable. In other words, working towards a goal may be as valuable as achieving the goal. This feature will come up later in the discussion of what we shall call "process" goals—i.e., goals set to encourage a way of doing things rather than a particular end-state. For the purposes of this paper, then, corporate goal-setting means the commitment of a firm or group of firms to a certain course of action or end-state, which may be tightly or loosely defined.
Few, if any, environmental goals can be identified in the early, problem-solving stage of corporate environmental management. Companies at this stage interpret environmental problems as fitting into a more traditional area of concern. For example, when one company was faced with an explosion of some waste drums that had washed up on a public beach and caught fire (obviously that had been mishandled by their waste management contractor), it gave the job to the PR department because this was perceived as a threat to its image as an innovative consumer product company.15 It would appear that the company saw this incident as belonging to a different category from environment. The same firm, today, has a highly elaborated set of environmental functions and would give this problem to them, as well as to the PR department. The compliance stage in the overall evolution has been characterized by indirect environmental goals, manifest primarily in commitments to comply with regulations that, by and large, set the path a company needs to follow as mandated by the "command-and-control" regulatory system. This was a period in which environmental concerns were considered to be externalities that, in terms of the dominant economic theory, were not incorporated into the firm's cost structures and, thereby, were out of its strategic ambit. Explicit technology goals were infrequently established during the legislative and regulatory process, but generally not by the industry (except in opposition to the proposed mandates). Environmental goals were set by the public bodies. In terms of goal-setting, industry response was often to argue its case during the legislative debate and regulatory proceedings. Its environmental goals might be cynically stated to cut the best deal it could.