Drift and Adjustment in Organizational Rule Compliance: Explaining the 'Regulatory Pendulum' in Financial Markets
Organization Science, 25(2):321-338, March-April 2014, DOI: org/10.1287/orsc.2013.0847
37 Pages Posted: 12 May 2013 Last revised: 10 Jan 2017
Date Written: 2014
This article integrates research on rule development, compliance, and organizational change to model rule development and compliance in organizations, using causal-loop modeling from system dynamics to articulate explicitly a few key underlying processes. We focus on financial markets as a case area, suggesting that recurring regulatory problems in financial markets in the United States over the past 60 years, while differing in specifics, are structurally similar. At the heart of the model is the tension between production goals that focus on short-term, certain, salient benefits and required adherence to production-constraining rules that attempt to mitigate long-term, uncertain, and non-salient risks. It describes systemically how organizations attend to rules depending on the nature of the benefits of production compared to those of rule compliance. The model captures the operative mechanisms responsible for the development of pressures for production and for rule compliance in organizations, providing a structural explanation both for problem-prone organizations characterized by erosion of standards and increased violations and for organizations following rules more reliably. Drawing on studies of institutional work, we conclude by suggesting research on how agency, through strategic and tactical choice, potentially modifies structure in rule compliance.
Keywords: Rule Change, Rule Compliance, Internal and External Regulation, Standards Erosion, Complex Systems Analysis, Qualitative Analysis, Organizational Processes, Financial Markets
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