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The Dangers of Decoupling: The Relationship between Compliance Programs, Legitimacy Perceptions, and Institutionalized Misconduct

Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 53, No. 6, pp. 1499-1520, 2010

23 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2012 Last revised: 17 Mar 2012

Tammy L. MacLean

Suffolk University - Department of Management

Michael Behnam

Suffolk University

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

This theory-building analysis spotlights a dynamic that occurs between decoupling, legitimacy, and institutionalized misconduct. Using data gathered from a case study of widespread deceptive sales practices at a large financial services firm, we demonstrate the dangers of decoupling an organizational compliance program from the core business activities of an organization. We illustrate how decoupling created a “legitimacy facade” that enabled the institutionalization of misconduct and precipitated a loss of external legitimacy.

Suggested Citation

MacLean, Tammy L. and Behnam, Michael, The Dangers of Decoupling: The Relationship between Compliance Programs, Legitimacy Perceptions, and Institutionalized Misconduct (2010). Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 53, No. 6, pp. 1499-1520, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2019165

Tammy L MacLean (Contact Author)

Suffolk University - Department of Management ( email )

United States

Michael Behnam

Suffolk University ( email )

8 Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
United States

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