Normative and Image Motivations for Compliance with Sustainable Transportation Policy

TitleNormative and Image Motivations for Compliance with Sustainable Transportation Policy
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsGao J, Zhao J
JournalUrban Studies

A high level of non-compliance with policies aimed to protect common pool resources necessitates investigation into motivations behind compliance so that policies could be tailored to raise compliance level. Compliance with such protection policies of common pool resources such as car control policies instituted in Chinese cities aimed to reduce congestion and pollution is critical to ensuring sustainable development. In 1994 Shanghai instituted a monthly license plate auction policy to limit car growth, and it has led to some success in comparison to other cities. However, the high price of auctioned license plates—over $10,000 USD—has contributed to a significant degree of non-compliance (28% according to data collected for this research), which then compels investigation into the motivations behind compliance to improve the policy. The long-held instrumental theory emphasizing the dependence of compliance on tangible deterrence measures fails to adequately explain empirical findings. Recently established comprehensive models incorporate normative, instrumental, and image motivations behind compliance. Through a case study of Shanghai’s auction policy based on a survey (n = 1,389) of attitudes toward both the policy and compliance as well as actual behavior, this paper verifies the prime importance of normative and image motivations over the instrumental motivation to comply. Moreover, this paper establishes the significant positive relationship of local residency status (in the form of hukou) on both compliance itself and the various motivations behind compliance. The discovery of the importance of normative and image motivations to comply with transportation policy helps policymakers improve their approach to designing policies and regulations aimed to protect common pool resources.