Regulation as Rhetoric: A Post-Bureaucratic Strategy for Regulation

Karen Boll, Csaba Györy

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This paper analyses the way regulatory agencies strategically use public ‘rhetoric’ and ‘management of appearance’ to strengthen their regulation. It reports a comparative study of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which is the US federal securities regulator and the Danish Tax and Customs Administration (SKAT) which is the national tax regulator in Denmark. SEC operates in a US context where the agency fights to get trust, while SKAT operates in a context where high trust in public agencies is a basic condition. We argue, however, that despite the radically different institutional environment, these two agencies apply strategies that appear to be strikingly similar, and these similarities are worth investigating not despite, but exactly because of the differing political and social environment.
We track recent shifts in organizational practice at these two agencies and argue that both engage reflectively in image promotion which serves two purposes: establishing and maintaining legitimacy in a particular social and political environment and producing compliance. Further, we argue that this regulation is a form of ‘post-bureaucratic’ regulation in which compliance is achieved by skilled management of public appearance.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2014
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventThe Second Workshop on the Analysis of Bureaucracy in Society: Perspectives on Bureaucracy in Society - Oslo, Norway
Duration: 1 Dec 20142 Dec 2014
Conference number: 2


WorkshopThe Second Workshop on the Analysis of Bureaucracy in Society

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