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Using the institutional grammar tool to understand regulatory compliance: The case of Colorado aquaculture


Saba Siddiki, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, 801 W. Michigan Street, BS 3027, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA. Email:


What is the relationship between the design of regulations and levels of individual compliance? To answer this question, Crawford and Ostrom's institutional grammar tool is used to deconstruct regulations governing the aquaculture industry in Colorado, USA. Compliance with the deconstructed regulatory components is then assessed based on the perceptions of the appropriateness of the regulations, involvement in designing the regulations, and intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. The findings suggest that levels of compliance with regulations vary across and within individuals regarding various aspects of the regulatory components. As expected, the level of compliance is affected by the perceived appropriateness of regulations, participation in designing the regulations, and feelings of guilt and fear of social disapproval. Furthermore, there is a strong degree of interdependence among the written components, as identified by the institutional grammar tool, in affecting compliance levels. The paper contributes to the regulation and compliance literature by illustrating the utility of the institutional grammar tool in understanding regulatory content, applying a new Q-Sort technique for measuring individual levels of compliance, and providing a rare exploration into feelings of guilt and fear outside of the laboratory setting.