Campaign‐Style Enforcement and Regulatory Compliance

Published date01 January 2015
Date01 January 2015
Nicole Ning Liu is visiting fellow in
the Department of Public Policy at City
University of Hong Kong. She received her
doctorate in public sector management from
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her
research examines environmental regulation,
corporate environmental management, and
government–business relations.
Carlos Wing-Hung Lo is professor and
head of the Department of Management
and Marketing at The Hong Kong
Polytechnic University. His main research
interests are in the areas of law and
government, environmental management,
public sector management, cultural heritage
management, and corporate social and
environmental responsibility, within the
contexts of China and Hong Kong. He is
coauthor of Institutions, Regulatory
Styles, Society, and Environmental
Governance in China (Routledge, 2014).
Wei Wang is professor in the
Department of Business Administration,
Management School, Jinan University,
China. Her research focuses on information
technology innovation and information
systems implementation, social networks,
electronic commerce, and environmental
management. Her research has appeared in
Regulation and Governance, Journal
of Environmental Management,
European Journal of Information
Systems, and Journal of Computer
Information Systems.
Xueyong Zhan is assistant professor
in the Department of Management and
Marketing at The Hong Kong Polytechnic
University. He received his doctorate in
public administration from the University of
Southern California. His research examines
environmental policy implementation,
environmental nongovernmental organiza-
tions, and public management. His work
has been published in Journal of Public
Administration Research and Theory,
Public Administration, Journal of
Development Studies, and Journal of
Policy Analysis and Management.
Campaign-Style Enforcement and Regulatory Compliance 85
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 75, Iss. 1, pp. 85–95. © 2014 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12285.
As documented in the literature, various forms of
enforcement campaigns have been staged in many
countries to achieve pressing policy goals, such as
road safety (Rundmo and Iversen 2004; Tay 2005),
the war on drugs (MacCoun and Reuter 2001), anti-
corruption (Wedeman 2005), and counterterrorism
(May, Workman, and Jones 2008).  e existing lit-
erature has identif‌i ed common characteristics shared
by these enforcement campaigns, namely, a high
degree of urgency, a temporary initiative, a tightly
coordinated operation, and a clearly def‌i ned goal
(Biddulph, Cooney, and Zhu 2012; Li and Foster
2008; Van Rooij 2006; Zhou 2012). Following the
literature, we def‌i ne campaign-style enforcement as a
type of policy implementation involving extraordi-
nary mobilization of administrative resources under
political sponsorship to achieve a specif‌i c policy
target within a def‌i ned period of time. Such cam-
paign practices may be either short term or sustained
for a prolonged period of time, and they may even
be institutionalized as routine enforcement meas-
ures at the end of the campaign. Campaign-style
How to control environmental pollution
has become a pressing policy issue faced
by the Chinese government. After more
than 30 years of rapid economic development, the
country has witnessed deteriorating environmental
quality, mainly as a result of its poor performance
in controlling industrial pollution (Economy 2010;
Lora-Wainwright 2013). From 2001 to 2005, for
example, industrial sulphur dioxide (SO2) discharge
increased by 28 percent, while smoke dust emis-
sions decreased by only 0.5 percent (the original
national policy target was a 10 percent decrease of
both pollutants).1 Surprisingly, substantial progress
was seen from 2006 to 2010, with SO2 and smoke
dust emissions reduced by 27 percent and 49 percent,
respectively. One possible explanation for this remark-
able progress, as identif‌i ed in recent studies, is that
adoption of campaign-style enforcement of the energy
conservation and emission reduction (ECER) policy
under China’s 11th Five-Year Plan (FYP) signif‌i cantly
reduced industrial air pollution (Cao, Garbaccio, and
Ho 2011; Zhao and Ortolano 2010).
Campaign-Style Enforcement and Regulatory Compliance
Nicole Ning Liu
City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Carlos Wing-Hung Lo
Xueyong Zhan
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
Wei Wang
Jinan University, China
Abstract: is article examines the recoupling mechanism of campaign-style enforcement and its ef‌f ects on envi-
ronmental regulatory compliance. Drawing on the policy implementation literature and institutional theory, the
authors develop a conceptual model of campaign-style enforcement in which both resource mobilization and power
redistribution are theorized to address decoupling problems in regulatory compliance.  e two-pathway recou-
pling mechanism is evidenced by an empirical investigation of the implementation of China’s energ y conservation
and emission reduction policy as part of that country’s 11th Five-Year Plan. Findings suggest that campaign-style
enforcement can ef‌f ectively improve regulatory compliance when it addresses the ef‌f‌i ciency/legitimacy conf‌l ict by
providing policy incentives and reorganizing a clear hierarchy of political authority.  e article concludes with a
discussion of the strengths and limitations of campaign-style enforcement.
Practitioner Points
Campaign-style enforcement is a type of policy implementation involving extraordinary mobilization of
administrative resources under strong political sponsorship to ef‌f ectively address the decoupling problems in
regulatory enforcement and compliance.
Campaign-style enforcement is usually adopted when regular enforcement fails and urgent tasks require
timely responses.
• Ef‌f ective campaign practices may have long-term legacy to accelerate the pace of political and legal
evolvement towards better governance structures and regulatory outcomes.
Policy makers should understand both the strengths and the possible limitations of campaign-style
enforcement for ef‌f ective adoption.

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