Beyond deterrent enforcement styles : Behavioural intuitions of Chinese environmental law enforcement agents in a context of challenging inspections

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

18 Scopus Citations
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  • Ning Liu
  • Benjamin Van Rooij
  • Carlos Wing-Hung Lo


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-512
Journal / PublicationPublic Administration
Issue number3
Online published24 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018


This article extends the study of regulatory enforcement on three levels. First, it separates enforcement style elements during inspections and sanction decision‐making work, creating a more realistic measurement. Second, it focuses on how these elements function in a context where it is hard in practice to achieve deterrence. Third, it assesses how agents view the effectiveness of combinations of style elements in such a context. To do so, it uses survey and interview data with street‐level environmental officials in Guangzhou, China. It finds that the agents studied practise enforcement that goes beyond deterrence and uses education and persuasion more effectively. It finds that the behavioural assumptions of these agents are to a large extent in line with the available regulatory literature, although agents are very unlikely to have consulted such studies. Therefore, the article concludes that law enforcement agents can develop nuanced and appropriate behavioural intuitions through their everyday work experiences.

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