Managing toxic chemicals in Australia: A regional analysis of the risk society

Suzanne Benn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The paper takes examples from two decades of toxic risk management in Australia in order to examine the challenges that the conditions of the 'risk society' pose for the chemicals industry in this country. These issues for corporate governance are set against a shift in political discourse in the direction of the limiting of the state, co-governance between state and industry, and new community involvements and responsibilities. The paper describes new social movements and alliances influencing corporate structures and processes for decision making in Australia. The case examples lead to conclusions concerning the fundamental innovations in the organizational design of regulatory bodies and corporations that are required if progress is to be made towards sustainability and the re-establishment of public trust. The findings of this paper are symptomatic of the more general challenges that the 'risk society' poses for the mainstream political programmes and their frameworks for regulation, for corporate architecture and for the relationships between governments, corporations and the community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-412
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemicals industry
  • Public trust
  • Toxic risk management


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