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
Date Written: July 30, 2015
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
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