Rationalizing violation : ordered accounts of intentionality in the making and breaking of safety rules

Busby, Jeremy Simon and Iszatt-White, Marian (2016) Rationalizing violation : ordered accounts of intentionality in the making and breaking of safety rules. Organization Studies, 37 (1). pp. 35-53. ISSN 0170-8406

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Regulative rules are central to the efforts made in organizations to ensure orderliness in the presence of physical danger. The reportedly routine violation of safety rules in organizations therefore brings into question the longstanding association of rules with organizational order, and the literature is sharply divided on whether rule violation represents a dangerous disorder or a reasonable way of getting by. This study is an attempt to carry out a more interpretive analysis, looking at how organizational members construct a sense of order in the presence of rule violation – and in particular how they do so by using a concept of intentionality to maintain accountability yet avoid rules becoming taboos. We find that the way people explain intentions attests to several senses of order that otherwise appear to be lost when rules are violated, such as predictability, purposefulness and progressiveness. This indicates that rules do not maintain, symbolize and constitute order simply because they are normative restraints on behaviour – but act as nuclei for discourses that can repair order even when they are violated. The order that is repaired in this way is both a mechanistic and a moral one.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Organization Studies
Additional Information:
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Organization Studies, 37 (1), 2016, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2016 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Organization Studies page: http://oss.sagepub.com/ on SAGE Journals Online: http://online.sagepub.com/
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? organizational behavior and human resource managementstrategy and managementmanagement of technology and innovation ??
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Deposited On:
06 Apr 2016 09:30
Last Modified:
31 Dec 2023 00:40