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Testing an Expected Utility Model of Corporate Deterrence

John Braithwaite and Toni Makkai
Law & Society Review
Vol. 25, No. 1 (1991), pp. 7-40
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Law and Society Association
DOI: 10.2307/3053888
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3053888
Page Count: 34
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Testing an Expected Utility Model of Corporate Deterrence
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Abstract

This article reports on the first quantitative perceptual deterrence study of corporate (rather than individual) deterrence. The study is based on interviews with 410 chief executives of small organizations and their officially recorded compliance with regulatory standards. We find partial support for the certainty of detection as a predictor of both self-reported and officially recorded compliance but no support for the certainty or severity of sanctioning. The narrow range of sanctions available in the particular regulatory domain studied (regulation of nursing home quality) has enabled a fuller specification than was possible in previous studies of an expected utility model for all available sanctions. Managers' expected corporate disutility from all sanctions fails to explain compliance. Deterrence does not work significantly more effectively for chief executives (a) of for-profit versus nonprofit organizations, (b) who are owners compared with those who are not owners, (c) who say they think about sanctions more (sanction salience), (d) who may better fit the rational choice model in that they are low on emotionality, (e) who have a weaker belief in the law. Nor is deterrence more effective when compliance costs are low.

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