When do firms conform? The effect of regulatory control processes on compliance and opportunism

David I. Gilliland, Kenneth C. Manning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The authors use social control theory to develop a conceptual model that addresses the effectiveness of regulatory agencies’ (e.g., Food and Drug Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration) field-level efforts to obtain conformance with product safety laws. Central to the model are the control processes agencies use when monitoring organizations and enforcing the safety rules. These approaches can be labeled formal control (e.g., rigid enforcement) and informal control (e.g., social instruction). The theoretical framework identifies an important antecedent of control and the relative effectiveness of control’s alternative forms in gaining compliance and reducing opportunism. Furthermore, the model predicts that the regulated firms’ level of agreement with the safety rules moderates the relationships between control and firm responses. A local health department’s administration of state food safety regulations provides the empirical context for testing the hypotheses. The results from a survey of 173 restaurants largely support the proposed model. The study findings inform a discussion of effective methods of administering product safety laws. The authors use social control theory to develop a conceptual model that addresses the effectiveness of regulatory agencies’ (e.g., Food and Drug Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration) field-level efforts to obtain conformance with product safety laws. Central to the model are the control processes agencies use when monitoring organizations and enforcing the safety rules. These approaches can be labeled formal control (e.g., rigid enforcement) and informal control (e.g., social instruction). The theoretical framework identifies an important antecedent of control and the relative effectiveness of control’s alternative forms in gaining compliance and reducing opportunism. Furthermore, the model predicts that the regulated firms’ level of agreement with the safety rules moderates the relationships between control and firm responses. A local health department’s administration of state food safety regulations provides the empirical context for testing the hypotheses. The results from a survey of 173 restaurants largely support the proposed model. The study findings inform a discussion of effective methods of administering product safety laws.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-331
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Public Policy and Marketing
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Keywords

  • social control theory
  • effectiveness
  • regulatory agencies
  • field-level efforts
  • product safety laws
  • control processes agencies
  • monitoring organizations
  • safety rules
  • formal control
  • rigid enforcement
  • informal control
  • social instruction
  • compliance
  • opportunism

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