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Grid-group cultural theory and the causal mechanism approach as requisite partners. Explaining enforcement decisions in West European labor inspection

By Kim Loyens


As street-level bureaucrats, labor inspectors enjoy much autonomy and discretion in the performance of their job. To avoid this freedom being abused, two measures are often taken. First, supervisors keep oversight by inspecting case files. Second, labor inspectors are subjected to a competitive system of targets that encourages competition. These two measures resemble two subtypes of organizational control in grid-group cultural theory, respectively hierarchical and individualistic control. The impact of both types of control has been analyzed in an ethnographic case study in four field organizations of West European labor inspection. The overarching grid-group cultural theory framework was particularly valuable to illustrate how tensions between hierarchical and individualistic control lead to inconsistencies in the enforcement styles that labor inspectors apply. However, it did not seem sufficient to explain why labor inspectors apply a hierarchical enforcement style in some investigations and an individualistic enforcement style in others. This paper illustrates how the integration of grid-group cultural theory with two middle-range theories in the causal mechanism approach (i.e. moral disengagement and role strain theory) could provide such proximate explanations and thus strengthen the explanatory power of grid-group cultural theory

Topics: grid-group cultural theory, moral disengagement, role strain theory, enforcement decision-making, street-level bureaucracy, CLIMATE-CHANGE, DISENGAGEMENT
Year: 2013
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