The publication of names of corporate offenders is often referred to as ‘naming and shaming.’ This term is, however, controversial, and regulators generally prefer the more neutral term ‘disclosure.’ For reasons of legal equality, regulators often prefer to publish the names of companies with prosecution decisions, inspection results, enforcement measures and sanctions systematically in publicly accessible inspection reports, benchmarks, performance indicator scores, offenders’ indices, public registers, black lists of offending companies, or incidental press releases on enforcement actions. This chapter is concerned with whether and how such publications influence compliance. It argues that disclosure will only positively influence compliance when regulators succeed in connecting with firms’ concern for a good reputation as a motive for compliance. It identifies three aspects of firms’ reputations that can motivate compliance. First, a reputation is a financial asset, because it enables firms to increase their market share, share value or business opportunities. Second, entrepreneurs do not only strive for a good reputation because it pays off financially, but also because they value being regarded as respectful, credible and reliable, and want to act in accordance with social norms. Third, a reputation defines duties and obligations and thus increases firms’ awareness about normative expectations of its stakeholders. Regulatory disclosure can influence compliance when it connects to one or more of these three aspects of firm’s reputations: by invoking firms’ fear of reputational sanctions, by invoking firms’ fear of public disapproval and shame, and by increasing firms’ awareness of the duties and obligations that constitute a good reputation.
Erasmus School of Law

van Erp, J. (2012). Naming and Shaming in Regulatory Enforcement. Retrieved from