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13 - Compliance Ethnography: What Gets Lost in Compliance Measurement

from Part 3 - Qualitative Approaches to Measuring Corporate Compliance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 February 2022

Melissa Rorie
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Benjamin van Rooij
University of Amsterdam, School of Law
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Abstract: Drawing on data from two ethnographies on organizational compliance in China, this chapter offers three important insights about what gets lost in traditional quantitative measures of organizational compliance. First, the studies show that compliance is muddled. A close-up view of the actual business responses to the law are hard to capture in binary or numerical terms (or even in more nuanced labeling such as motivational postures or levels of commitment); in everyday practice there are many instances of both rule-obeying and rule-violating behavior. Second, compliance is dynamic and varies at different points in time and in their situational contexts. Third, the studies show that compliance can be a nonlinear process in which compliance occurs even when there is no chain of transmission from governmental regulators to compliance managers to individual workers. The chapter draws out what these insights mean for the study and practice of compliance measurement. Ultimately, there is a strong need for multi-method research that combines understanding complexity through in-depth case studies (combining participant observation with interviews) alongside statistical analysis in quantitative work.

Measuring Compliance
Assessing Corporate Crime and Misconduct Prevention
, pp. 218 - 238
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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