Explaining Compliance
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Explaining Compliance

Business Responses to Regulation

Edited by Christine Parker and Vibeke Lehmann Nielsen

Explaining Compliance consists of sixteen specially commissioned chapters by the world’s leading empirical researchers, examining whether and how businesses comply with regulation that is designed to affect positive behaviour changes.
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Chapter 13: Facing the Compliance Challenge: Hercules, Houdini or the Charge of the Light Brigade?

Fiona Haines


Fiona Haines* INTRODUCTION For a range of commentators, enhancing compliance means finding ways to get individuals, managers and organizations to ‘do the right thing’ and comply with the legitimate demands of government to prevent harm. Compliance is a self-evident virtue resulting in safer workplaces, safer products, healthier food or a cleaner environment. As the sophistication of this literature grows, a broad range of actors such as non governmental organizations, unions and insurance companies are brought together with an array of graduated enforcement possibilities to cajole, educate, exhort or demand compliance (Ayres and Braithwaite, 1992; Baldwin and Black, 2008; Gunningham and Grabosky, 1998; Parker, 2002). There is much to commend this approach where the aim of compliance remains narrow, namely a concern to reduce a well-defined and proscribed harm. The complexity and nuance in approach is anchored by clear aims. This chapter explores why, despite this development of greater sophistication in compliance and enforcement regimes, difficulties persist. To do so, I analyze the way compliance involves bringing together two distinct worlds, the world of the regulated place and the world of legislative intent (Haines, 2005; Kahn-Freund, 1974), and how tensions are generated both within and in the interaction between these two worlds. The world of the regulated place is the subject of the first part of this chapter. At the level of the regulated place, compliance is clearly affected by more than law and law enforcement. Economic pressures and opportunities together with normative expectations of ‘how things are done around here’...

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