This study examines changes in enforcement styles among environmental enforcement officials in the context of China's rapidly changing institutional environments, using panel data collected in Guangzhou in 2000 and 2006. Altogether, five enforcement style elements were examined—accommodation, prioritization, educational, formalism, and coercion. It was found that in 2006 respondents reported greater reliance on education, formalism, and coercion than in 2000. During the same period 2000–06, no significant changes were found for the enforcement styles of accommodation and prioritization or in the respondents' perceptions of their organization's enforcement effectiveness. From regression models in which enforcement styles were used to predict perceived organizational enforcement effectiveness, it was observed that the coefficient for formalism had changed substantially over this period, from being significantly negative to significantly positive, which may be evidence of a general shift from ‘rule by man’ to ‘rule by law’ in China. This study has benefited from the concept of regulatory enforcement style elements, as it allows for an empirical understanding of regulatory enforcement beyond the common and normative dichotomy of deterrence versus cooperation.
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