The rise and fall of normative control
Widely-publicized breaches of professional norms among accountants in the United States have kindled their interest in the problem of norms and normative control. This article discusses the current literature on norms. It suggests that normative control, which is always problematic, is especially so when agents are subject to the control of two or more principals having divergent interests. It is argued that the agent's compliance will tend to flow to that principal upon whom the agent is most dependent. The analysis is illustrated by the case of the rise and fall of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm.
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