The role of motivation crowding for biodiversity conservation policy


Contact person:
Julian Rode (Dept. of Environmental Politics)

Alma Scholz (Dept. of Environmental Politics) 

External collaborators

Stefanie Engel (University of Osnabrück)
Juan-Felipe Ortiz-Riomalo (University of Osnabrück)
Fabian Thomas (University of Osnabrück)
Torsten Krause (Lund University)
Erik Gomez-Baggethun (Norwegian University of Life Sciences)
Torsten Masson (University of Leipzig)


Economic incentives have increasingly been emphasised in policies that promote a more sustainable use of natural resources and the conservation of biodiversity. A wide range of economic incentives are nowadays employed, for instance national and local payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes, financial compensation measures as well as green taxes and subsidies to support pro-environmental behaviour of people and corporations. Psychological theory on human motivation has shown that monetary incentives may reduce people’s ‘intrinsic’ motivation to act in desired ways and may undermine a certain pre-defined objective. Concerns about a “motivation crowding out” effect (denoting an erosion of intrinsic motivations) have persisted in the academic debate on incentive-based conservation policies, but also ‘crowding in’ effect have been found. This project synthesizes the empirical evidence on motivation crowding effects and aims to understand the conditions under which they occur, including policy design features, cultural context, and personal characteristics. In light of the diverse methodological approaches used for measuring people’s motivations to act for conservation and to establish motivation crowding effects, the project also wants to advance the methodological debate.


Rode, J. (2022), When payments for ecosystem conservation stop, Nature Sustainability 5, 15-16.

Rode, J., Gómez-Baggethun, E., Krause, T. (2015), Motivation crowding by economic incentives in conservation policy: A review of the empirical evidence, Ecological Economics 117, 270-282.