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Policy narrative, policy understanding and policy support intention: a survey experiment on energy conservation

Mu, Rui; Li, Yan; Cui, Tie


Rui Mu

Yan Li

Tie Cui


Nowadays, policy narratives as a communication strategy are frequently used by governments to persuade target populations and obtain policy support. However, few studies have empirically examined whether and through what mechanisms policy narratives can enhance policy support intention. To fill this gap, this study uses the case of energy conservation policy to conduct a survey experiment among 300 industrial enterprises in Liaoning, China. The findings indicate that policy narratives are effective in strengthening policy support intention; this effectiveness is achieved through a mediating variable of subjective policy understanding. In other words, only when policy narratives make target populations think they understand the policy can they show strong policy support intention. Additionally, we examine how policy narratives should be designed to enhance subjective policy understanding. The study finds that a simple narrative form (i.e. reducing policy details and using images and symbols) and a narrative content with positive incentives (i.e. showing material and reputational incentives) are two measures to enhance subjective policy understanding, which then leads to strong policy support intention. The implications of these findings for the policy narrative theory and policy implementation practice are discussed at the end of the article.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 8, 2021
Online Publication Date Jul 15, 2021
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Apr 11, 2022
Publicly Available Date Apr 13, 2022
Journal Policy Studies
Print ISSN 0144-2872
Electronic ISSN 1470-1006
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 6
Pages 1361-1381
Keywords Policy narrative; policy understanding; policy support intention; energy conservation; survey experiment
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Policy Narrative Policy Understanding And Policy Support Intention A Survey Experiment On Energy Conservation (3.6 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

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