Energy Crisis and Public Response: A Cross-Cultural Study of Curtailment Behaviour for Electricity Conservation Campaigns in New Zealand and Japan
A myriad of factors can rapidly destabilise a nation’s energy security. Factors such as extreme weather events, geo-political tension, and supply instability may result in acute or chronic energy supply shortages occurring with little or no warning. In a critical response context, a society’s resilience is tested, and the ability to change consumption behaviour is vital. Energy conservation campaigns are often implemented to elicit this behaviour.
New Zealand and Japan have both experienced conservation campaigns in the past decade as a result of natural disasters (Japan) and weather-related generation shortages (New Zealand). The context from which each campaign developed and the resulting urgency of the reductions were distinct. However, the goal of appealing to the public to reduce electricity consumption was comparable. This provides a unique opportunity to explore determinants of willingness to change consumption behaviour during a conservation campaign in different socio-cultural contexts.
Values are guiding principles in people’s lives informing their behaviour, and value orientations can be shaped by socio-cultural contexts. Therefore, differences between value orientations may be present cross-culturally. Specifically, the Schwartz theory of basic values is used as a theoretical basis for investigating value orientations underpinning individuals’ willingness to participate in a conservation campaign.
This thesis investigates the relationships of two socio-psychological determinants, (1) value orientations, and (2) environmental concern, with willingness to participate in a conservation campaign and adopt curtailment behaviours. A sequential mixed-methods study was utilised in two countries, New Zealand and Japan. The quantitative questionnaire examined associations between values, environmental concern, and willingness to adopt curtailment behaviours. Furthermore, a cultural dimension was captured in both societies to determine each society’s preference for placing more importance on either personal, or social interests. Different sets of determinants were associated with willingness between countries.
The qualitative component provided an opportunity to explore value relationships and motivations through the dialogue of participants when discussing electricity shortage scenarios and conservation campaigns. Diversity among determinants that promote and hinder willingness to reduce electricity consumption transpired between participants from New Zealand and Japan, and these differences are found to be related to the personal versus social preference of their respective socio-cultural contexts.