Regulatory Styles, Motivational Postures and Nursing Home Compliance


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74 Citations (Scopus)


Using Kagan and Scholz (1984) typology of regulatory noncompliance, this study examined the perceptions of regulators and of regulatees toward the regulatory encounter to predict subsequent compliance with nursing home quality of care standards. Appraisals of both regulators and regulatees were not driven by motivational analyses of each other's actions, but rather by assessments of performance and social group identity. The regulators saw nursing homes in terms of one evaluative dimension ranging from responsible and not in need of intervention through to irresponsible and needing intervention. The corresponding reactions of nursing home managers involved seeing the regulators as cooperative and sympathetic through to police‐like and coercive. On both sides of the regulatory encounter, criticism and reactions to criticism swamped nuanced analyses of motivational underpinnings and rational decision models in explaining compliance. The motivational complexity underlying the Kagan and Scholz typology was, however, apparent in the self‐reported motivational postures of managers toward the regulatory process. The postures of managerial accommodation and capture to the regulatory culture were associated with compliance. Over time, resisters to the new regulatory regime became more compliant, particularly those whom inspectors judged as best left alone to adjust. In contrast were managers whose response to the regulatory process was disengagement. Their organizations experienced deterioration in compliance. The study fails to find that certain kinds of regulatory strategies such as deterrence, education and persuasion work better than others across the sample or with specific groups. Extant models focus excessively on how to play the regulatory game without recognizing the potential for players dropping out of the game. Understanding reasons for disengagement and processes for reengagement are fundamental to the application of behavioral decision theory models to the regulatory context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-394
Number of pages32
JournalLaw & Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1994


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