Business Responses to Regulation
Edited by Christine Parker and Vibeke Lehmann Nielsen
Chapter 14: Negotiating Social, Economic and Political Environments: Compliance with Regulation Within and Beyond the State
Bridget M. Hutter* INTRODUCTION This chapter focuses on a key finding of sociolegal research into compliance, namely that it is a complex concept involving the negotiation of legal, economic, political and social environments by the various parties involved in regulatory dialogues. Compliance is the practical resolution of the tensions between risk and mainstream economic activities, which results in an approach to compliance that is complex, flexible and dynamic. We need to recognize the situated character of compliance and that varying perceptions of risk influence its definition, assessment and achievement. Regulation typically involves long term organizational compliance rather than transitory temporary encounters with individuals. The situated views and definitions of compliance generated in everyday encounters between regulators and business are in stark contrast to the perspectives of efficiency-driven politicians and policy makers who demand ‘compliance rates,’ presupposing that determining compliance with the law is a clear cut matter. Decades of sociolegal research have taught us that the very nature of regulation does not easily permit such clear cut decisions. This chapter draws on three empirical studies to illustrate the importance of understanding the situated and negotiated character of regulatory compliance. The first part sets the scene for the rest of the chapter by briefly explaining the background for why compliance is a negotiated response to economic, political and social contexts. The second and third parts of the chapter consider the negotiation of compliance from perspectives of the regulator and the regulated respectively, drawing on two empirical studies. The first study...
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