Understanding Deviance in a World of Standards

Author : Andrea Fried
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publication 2020
ISBN 9780198833888
eISBN 9780191872242
Language English


Standards have become widespread regulatory tools that promote global trade, innovation, efficiency, and quality. They contribute significantly to the creation of safe, reliable, and high-quality services and technologies to ensure human health, environmental protection, or information security. Yet intentional deviations from standards by organizations are often reported in many sectors, which can either contribute to or challenge the measures of safety and quality they are designed to safeguard. Why then, despite all potential consequences, do organizations choose to deviate from standards in one way or another? This book uses structuration theory—covering aspects of both structure and agency—to explore the organizational conditions and contradictions under which different types of deviance occur. It also provides empirical explanations for deviance in organizations that go beyond an understanding of individual misbehaviour where mainly a single person is held responsible. Case studies of software developing organizations illustrate insightful generalizations on standards as a mechanism of sensemaking, resource allocation, and sanctioning, and provide ground to rethink corporate responsibility when deviating from standards in the ‘audit society’.