Compliance: Regulation and Environment

By Bridget M. Hutter | Go to book overview

9 Conclusion

Compliance is a complex, flexible, and dynamic concept the definition, assessment, and achievement of which is the product of interaction, the outcome of a series of interpretative judgements. This process of compliance is subject to broad social and institutional constraints. These are embodied in the political, legal, organizational, and cultural spheres of the social context within which these interactions occur.

In attempting to make sense of regulatory control it is important to explore the shared understandings of those involved in regulation as well as of those parts of society which are most obviously of relevance to regulatory issues, such as the law, regulatory traditions, and regulatory work. It is important to be aware of conflicting interpretations of the social world and the political resolution of conflict; as well as of social change. Underpinning all of these are a series of regulatory tensions which inform not just the broader parameters of compliance but also its everyday resolution in the workplace. Moreover, they are tensions which help us to explain how and why regulatory officials come to select particular enforcement styles, especially those which are accommodative and compliance-based. The regulatory community is at the core of the compliance process and the relationship between regulators and the regulated emerges as vital to our understanding of regulatory control.

Kagan ( 1994, pp. 390 ff.) identified four sets of explanatory factors for variations in regulatory enforcement styles, namely regulatory legal design; the agency's social and economic task environment; its political environment; and its internal leadership. This research lends broad support to these, with support for the fourth being the weakest. This is partly because the focus of this research was not on the work of senior officials1 and partly because senior British regulatory officials are not subject to the overtly political appointments system which characterizes the United States. The Director General of HSE at the time of this research was a career civil-servant while the Chief Inspectors were all, with one exception, career regulatory officials. The preoccupations of

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1
The work of the senior officials at the centre of HSE did not form part of the overall project undertaken by the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies. But some discussion of this important topic is included in the overview of the research undertaken by Keith Hawkins ( 1992a).

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Compliance: Regulation and Environment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Oxford Socio-Legal Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • General Editor's Introduction vii
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • List of Tables xvii
  • List of Figures xviii
  • Abbreviations xix
  • Table of Statutes xx
  • Table of Statutory Instruments, Cases and Tribunal xxi
  • Part 1 - Setting the Scene 1
  • 1 - Organizing Themes and Concepts 3
  • 2 - The Health and Safety Executive 21
  • Part 2 - Defining Compliance 65
  • 3 - The Legal and Administrative Framework 67
  • 4 - The Working Definition of Compliance 80
  • Part 3 - Monitoring Compliance 105
  • 5 - Inspectors Take the Initiative: Proactive Methods 107
  • 6 - Responding to Complaints And Accidents: Reactive Enforcement Methods 127
  • Part 4 - Interactions Between Inspectors And The Regulated 155
  • 7 - Whose Compliance? 157
  • 8 - Compliance as a Process Of Enforcement 195
  • Part 5 - Conclusion 235
  • 9 - Conclusion 237
  • Appendix Organization of Data Collection 249
  • Bibliography 257
  • Author Index 269
  • Subject Index 272
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