Legal Ambiguity and the Politics of Compliance: Affirmative Action Officers' Dilemma

27 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2014

See all articles by Lauren B. Edelman

Lauren B. Edelman

University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence & Social Policy Program and Center for the Study of Law and Society

Stephen Petterson

Independent

Elizabeth Chambliss

University of South Carolina - School of Law

Howard S. Erlanger

University of Wisconsin Law School

Date Written: 1991

Abstract

Equal employment opportunity and affirmative action mandates, like many other laws regulating organizations, do not clearly define what constitutes compliance. Thus compliance depends largely on the initiative and agenda of those persons within organizations who are charged with managing the compliance effort: in the case of civil rights, "affirmative action officers." This paper draws on case studies of affirmative action officers to suggest that the political climate within which affirmative action officers work, together with the officers' interpretations of the law, their role conceptions, and their professional aspirations have important implications for the nature and extent of organizational compliance with law. We conclude that compliance should be understood as a process that evolves over time rather than as a discrete event or non-event.

Keywords: Affirmative Action

Suggested Citation

Edelman, Lauren B. and Petterson, Stephen and Chambliss, Elizabeth and Erlanger, Howard S., Legal Ambiguity and the Politics of Compliance: Affirmative Action Officers' Dilemma (1991). 13 Law & Policy 73 (1991); Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1299. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2500960

Lauren B. Edelman

University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence & Social Policy Program and Center for the Study of Law and Society ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
510-642-4038 (Phone)
510-643-6171 (Fax)

Elizabeth Chambliss

University of South Carolina - School of Law ( email )

Main & Greene Streets
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

Howard S. Erlanger

University of Wisconsin Law School ( email )

975 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.wisc.edu/facstaff/biog.php?iID=266

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