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
AuthorsJingkang Gao, Jinhua Zhao
JournalUrban Studies

Compliance with laws and regulations intended to protect common pool resources in the urban context is essential in tackling problems such as pollution and congestion. A high level of non-compliance necessitates an investigation into motivations behind compliance. The long-held instrumental theory emphasising the dependence of compliance on tangible deterrence measures fails to adequately explain empirical findings. More recently established compliance models incorporate normative, instrumental and image factors as motivations for compliance. We investigate the importance of normative and image motivations for transportation policy compliance, and the influence of the hukou (China’s household registration) on the composition of motivations. Through a case study of Shanghai’s license auction policy to inhibit car growth, we use a structural equation model and data from a survey (n = 1389) of policy attitudes and compliance behaviour. The results show that both locals and migrants comply because of instrumental motivation. However, for locals, normative and image motivations not only influence compliance but do so to a greater degree than instrumental motivations. This stands in stark contrast with the fact that there was no statistical relationship between normative and image motivations and compliance for migrants. The significant contribution of normative and image motivations to compliance in locals bears positive implications for compliance, but the absence of that in migrants is worrying. If only instrumental motivations matter, then the government is really constrained in how it can go about keeping social order. Compliance obtained strictly through social control indicates an unsustainable state of governance.