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Organizing corruption controls after a scandal: Regaining legitimacy in complex and changing institutional environments


Schembera, Stefan; Scherer, Andreas (2014). Organizing corruption controls after a scandal: Regaining legitimacy in complex and changing institutional environments. UZH Business Working Paper Series 343, University of Zurich.

Abstract

We study the corruption control strategies at three Multinational companies (MNC) before, during, and after the disclosure of corruption scandals and the initiation of legal procedures. In particular, we want to explore why some MNCs after a corruption scandal exceed regulatory expectations, choose proactive strategies, and influence their environment as institutional entrepreneurs that define best practices and new industry standards. Other companies, by contrast, act in a more incremental and self-referred way. We build on the concept of legitimacy in institutional theory, distinguish four strategies to regain legitimacy: decoupling, isomorphic adaptation, moral reasoning, and substantial influence, and explain the choice and sequence of these strategies. While all three case firms managed to (eventually) adapt to the compliance requirements imposed by external regulatory authorities, we found that only very distinct constellations of scandal and reintegration process characteristics, such as the presence of a strong legitimacy shock and the necessity to react both radically and instantly, forces the company into the role of an institutional entrepreneur. In cases where such legitimacy shocks are lacking, companies have more time to react and hence rather choose to gradually adapt their organizational processes to regulatory expectations. Rather than acting as institutional entrepreneurs, these companies rely almost exclusively on participating in moral reasoning activities to safeguard their new anti-corruption strategy. However, if change processes occur rather reluctantly after the disclosure of a big scandal, we found that externally imposed monitors may exercise severe pressure forcing the transgressor to eventually install a leading set of corruption controls.

We study the corruption control strategies at three Multinational companies (MNC) before, during, and after the disclosure of corruption scandals and the initiation of legal procedures. In particular, we want to explore why some MNCs after a corruption scandal exceed regulatory expectations, choose proactive strategies, and influence their environment as institutional entrepreneurs that define best practices and new industry standards. Other companies, by contrast, act in a more incremental and self-referred way. We build on the concept of legitimacy in institutional theory, distinguish four strategies to regain legitimacy: decoupling, isomorphic adaptation, moral reasoning, and substantial influence, and explain the choice and sequence of these strategies. While all three case firms managed to (eventually) adapt to the compliance requirements imposed by external regulatory authorities, we found that only very distinct constellations of scandal and reintegration process characteristics, such as the presence of a strong legitimacy shock and the necessity to react both radically and instantly, forces the company into the role of an institutional entrepreneur. In cases where such legitimacy shocks are lacking, companies have more time to react and hence rather choose to gradually adapt their organizational processes to regulatory expectations. Rather than acting as institutional entrepreneurs, these companies rely almost exclusively on participating in moral reasoning activities to safeguard their new anti-corruption strategy. However, if change processes occur rather reluctantly after the disclosure of a big scandal, we found that externally imposed monitors may exercise severe pressure forcing the transgressor to eventually install a leading set of corruption controls.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Business Administration
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:25 February 2014
Deposited On:27 Oct 2014 14:25
Last Modified:15 Apr 2016 06:04
Series Name:UZH Business Working Paper Series
Number of Pages:50
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:http://ssrn.com/abstract=2400936
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:10461
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-99684

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