Formalization and Consistency Heighten Organizational Rule Following: Experimental and Survey Evidence

E.L. Borry, L. DeHart-Davis, W. Kaufmann, C.C. Merritt, Z. Mohr, L.G. Tummers

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This study examines the attributes of organizational rules that influence rule following. Rule following fosters organizational effectiveness by aligning individual behaviours with organizational preference. While a range of theoretical explanations have been offered for rule following, the characteristics of rule design and implementation have received less empirical attention. Borrowing from the green tape theory of effective rules, this study examines the influence of two particular characteristics—rule formalization and rule consistency—on rule following. Three studies, which include two vignette experiments and a survey of two local government organizations, provide the data for the research. The results suggest that rule formalization and rule consistency independently increase rule following, with mixed evidence of interaction effects. The broad implication is that public managers must attend to both rule design and implementation to foster organizational rule following.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-385
JournalPublic Administration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


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