Governing Inside the Organization: Interpreting Regulation and Compliance

TitleGoverning Inside the Organization: Interpreting Regulation and Compliance
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsGray GC, Silbey SS
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Date PublishedJul
ISBN Number0002-9602
Accession NumberWOS:000347235300003

Looking inside organizations at the different positions, expertise, and autonomy of the actors, the authors use multisite ethnographic data on safety practices to develop a typology of how the regulator, as the focal actor in the regulatory process, is interpreted within organizations. The findings show that organizational actors express constructions of the regulator as an ally, threat, and obstacle that vary with organizational expertise, authority, and continuity of relationship between the organizational member and the regulator. The article makes three contributions to the current understandings of organizational governance and regulatory compliance, thereby extending both institutional and ecological accounts of organizations' behavior with respect to their environments. First, the authors document not only variation across organizations but variable compliance within an organization. Second, the variations described do not derive from alternative institutional logics, but from variations in positions, autonomy, and expertise within each organization. From their grounded theory, the authors hypothesize that these constructions carry differential normative interpretations of regulation and probabilities for compliance, and thus the third contribution, the typology, when correlated with organizational hierarchy provides the link between microlevel action and discourse and organizational performance.