Neil Gunningham - Fear, duty and regulatory compliance

This paper was presented as part of the Beyond best in practice: meeting the challenge workshop held on August 8, 2016.

Socio legal explanations of law-abidingness among regulated business enterprises, as well as among individuals, point to three basic motivational factors: fear of detection and legal punishment; concern about the consequences of acquiring a bad reputation; and a sense of duty, that is, the desire to conform to internalised norms or beliefs about right and wrong. I draw on three research projects concerning environmental regulation, supplemented by references to other research, to explore the interaction of these variables in shaping compliance and ‘beyond compliance’ behaviour by business firms. I conclude that, notwithstanding the repeated images of regulatory ‘failure’ conveyed by the media, regulation-induced fear of legal punishment, social license pressures, and the normative commitments of managers and others play important roles in inducing regulatory compliance.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet