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The Double-Edged Relationship between Coercive Power and Compliance with Public Authority: Evidence from a Representative Sample of Austrian Self-Employed Taxpayers

33 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2015  

Katharina Gangl

University of Vienna - Department of Psychology; Zeppelin University

Eva B. Hofmann

University of Vienna

Barbara Hartl

University of Vienna

Erich Kirchler

University of Vienna - Faculty of Psychology

Date Written: July 30, 2015

Abstract

Empirical evidence on the impact of public authorities’ coercive power on compliance of citizens is inconsistent. In some studies, coercive power had a positive effect and in other studies it had a weak or negative effect on compliance. This inconsistency may be related to the double-edged nature of coercive power. Cluster analysis of data from a representative sample of self-employed taxpayers confirmed that some citizens perceive coercive power as illegitimate and do not trust public authority whereas others perceive coercive power as legitimate and do trust public authority. This perceptual difference may determine whether citizens’ interactions with public authority is characterized by antagonism and lack of compliance or synergism and compliance. Results also indicate that perceiving coercive power as a targeted way to safeguard citizens in contrast to as a random threat to citizens reinforces the double-edged perception of coercive power. Theoretical and practical conclusions as to how coercive power can enhance interaction climates and cooperation are drawn.

Keywords: control, law enforcement, legitimacy, tax compliance, trust

Suggested Citation

Gangl, Katharina and Hofmann, Eva B. and Hartl, Barbara and Kirchler, Erich, The Double-Edged Relationship between Coercive Power and Compliance with Public Authority: Evidence from a Representative Sample of Austrian Self-Employed Taxpayers (July 30, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2667630 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2667630

Katharina Gangl (Contact Author)

University of Vienna - Department of Psychology ( email )

Universitätsstrasse 7
Vienna, A-1010
Austria

Zeppelin University ( email )

Am Seemooser Horn 20
Friedrichshafen, Lake Constance 88045
Germany

Eva B. Hofmann

University of Vienna ( email )

Christies gate 12
Bergen, 5015
Austria
00431427747336 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://homepage.univie.ac.at/eva.hofmann/

Barbara Hartl

University of Vienna ( email )

Bruenner Strasse 72
Vienna, Vienna 1090
Austria

Erich Kirchler

University of Vienna - Faculty of Psychology ( email )

Universitaetsstrasse 7
Vienna, A-1010
Austria
+43 1 42 7747332 (Phone)
+43 1 42 7747339 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://homepage.univie.ac.at/erich.kirchler

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