The influence of policy design on club good provisions: A study of for-profit shopping mall roof gardens in Shanghai

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Department of Social Sciences


Greenspace provision in high-density metropolises is often constrained by land shortage; market-based tools show the potential to solve the problem. Privately-owned public greenspace is a type of club goods provided by private developers to club members with non-rival but excludable benefits. Club goods are for-profit, and their sustainability, or the long-term ability to deliver high-quality services, entails appropriate policy design. This paper explores how policy design influences club good's sustainable provision, exemplified by the new developments of for-profit shopping-mall roof gardens in Shanghai, China. Such gardens established by developers to serve mall customers are club goods, providing ecosystem services and becoming significant compensation for urban greenspace shortage. Through field investigations and in-depth interviews, authors find that the current green-roof policy design increased roof gardens’ quantity but not quality and brought about gaps in legitimacy, profitability, and non-compliance. This research concludes that (1) general policy design can boost club good production; (2) more tailored policy design, including cross-department collaboration and tailored policymaking, are indispensable to improve clubs’ sustainability. This study suggests that policy designers take club good's intrinsic characteristics into consideration and address the legitimacy, profitability, and compliance problems, which will enable market-based tools to be better utilized in public-goods provision.

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Land Use Policy