In wake of the Enron, Worldcom, and Tyco scandals in the early years of the new millennium, Washington passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to restrain corporate malfeasance and excessive risk-taking. Many commercial banks responded by appointing Chief Risk Officers to monitor risk exposure. Institutionalists have found that professionals tasked with regulatory compliance over-comply, expanding their own corporate roles by exaggerating likelihood of government sanction. Dobbin argues that Chief Risk Officers, trained to maximize risk-adjusted returns, took a different tack, touting their capacity to comply with the law, but meanwhile bringing their firms to the edge of the risk cliff so as to maximize shareholder value. They thus transformed themselves from compliance officers to central actors in the Shareholder Value revolution. Two groups proved capable of preventing CROs from over-investigating in risky derivatives: CEOs who held substantial equity in the firm, and institutional investors who held large positions in the firm. Dobbins contributes to institutional theory by showing another path by which professionals can use regulatory compliance to gain a foothold in the firm, and highlighting the importance of internal power relations in determining corporate strategy. 

 

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