Panel: Interactive Effects of Policy Instruments and Contextual Factors
(Natural Resource Security, Energy and Environmental Policy)

Thursday, November 2, 2017: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Stetson E (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Yixin Dai, Tsinghua University
Panel Chairs:  Zhilin Liu, Tsinghua University
Discussants:  Stuart Bretschneider, Arizona State University and Hongtao Yi, The Ohio State University

Contextual Factors and Instrument Effectiveness in Chinese Wind Energy Policy
Yixin Dai, Tsinghua University and Michael Davidson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Policy instrument design and selection is an essential part in policy process, which serves as the baseline for smooth policy implementation. Existing literatures often discuss policy instrument in two steps: illustrating policy objectives and finding the appropriate tools to attain them. Yet, as policy issues became more complicated, traditional policy instrument design faces two challenges arising from contextual factors.

Firstly, every policy instrument has multi-dimensional efforts. Energy policy, for instance, does not only affect behavioral changes within energy system, rather, it could affect stakeholders in electricity sectors, environmental protection sections, research institutes, and even the general public. This “side effect” of policy instrument is getting broader as social issues intertwine to each other. Meanwhile, affected social sectors serve as contextual factors to the success of policy instruments. They show up in various terms such as public perception, industrial network, or social resource distribution. Considering these contractual factors together with instrument design and selection is important.  

Secondly, single instrument design could hardly serve any policy goals as policy issues becoming more complicated and multi-dimensional. The goal to develop renewable energy, for instance, could be conducted via instruments in energy policy, industrial policy, innovation policy, climate policy, or even social policy. For any one instrument, the existing and execution of other policy instruments form a policy environment that generates interactive contextual influence for it and affect the consistency and effectiveness for instrument design. The potential “consistency-conflict effect” among policy instruments also call for theoretical research.

This panel tries to explore two theoretical questions accordingly: firstly, what are some of the contextual factors that influence complicated instrument design? And how would contextual factors interact with policy instrument and influence its effectiveness? An additional research questions is also mentioned recalling for the theme of APPAM 2017: what are possible ways to properly measure the effectiveness of policy instrument?

Three papers are included in this panel, each contributing to the theoretical discussion from different aspects. In the first paper, authors explore to what extend knowledge educational tools would be effective in the process of nuclear technology deployment and finds that knowledge threshold exists: policy tools such as site visiting and national strategy preach can significantly increase nuclear acceptance for people who are lack of accurate nuclear knowledge, while educational tools has no significant influence on nuclear acceptance for people who are knowledgeable about the technology. The second paper examines how a country’s internal knowledge base, clean energy related industrial network, and policy instruments affect clean energy innovation. The paper finds that innovation policy incentives are effective conditioned on wind power industry’s inter-sector network, particularly the size and the density of the network. The third paper studies Chinese wind energy policy and illustrates that decentralization policy tools encounter several contextual challenges coming from existing policy tools in other sectors, which interactively generate policy fragmentation and conflicts and reduce instrument effectiveness. And marketization tools call for monitoring mechanism that could check and balance strong local preference generated from decentralization.