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Compliance theory: a goal framing approach

Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, University at Buffalo Law School, State University of New York
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  • Hb Economic Theory


Despite a wealth of publications on compliance and noncompliance, regulation scholars still lack a consistent and comprehensive compliance theory and entertain a collection of partial and incompatible theories instead. This article is an attempt to improve this situation by taking up two interrelated challenges that compliance theorists are facing: to account for the multiple motivations behind compliance and noncompliance behaviors with one internally consistent framework and to account for the interactions between these motivations in other than an additive or ad hoc fashion. The article builds on Siegwart Lindenberg's Goal Framing Theory, which provides consistent accounts of the cumulated and interactive influence of heterogeneous motivations on decisions. The goal framing approach is illustrated with an extensive range of examples borrowed from the empirical literature on regulatory compliance. It thus provides a synthetic framework to account for different types of responses to regulation.

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