The Regulators’ Perspective of Engagements with Small Firms – The Case of London 2012

Walsh, Lewis M. (2018) The Regulators’ Perspective of Engagements with Small Firms – The Case of London 2012. Doctoral thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

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Abstract

Set within the context of the London 2012 Olympic Games, this thesis seeks to give an empirical account of regulators’ behaviour and perspective of small firms in order to understand the relationship between regulators and small firms. Typically, research of the regulator-small firm relationship concentrates on the perspective of small firms, with some studies claiming regulation, and by extension regulators, to be an overt burden on business, particularly small firms (e.g. Sommers and Cole, 1985; Fairmann and Yapp, 2005). Recently the debate has intensified by the contributions of authors who have suggested that regulation and the entities that deliver it both constrain and enable businesses (e.g. Edwards, et al., 2004; Kitching, et al., 2015). The findings of this research form an in-depth case study, drawn from seventeen in-depth interviews with policy makers, regulatory managers, and enforcement officers, which furthers current knowledge of the largely overlooked ‘other-side’ of the debate on regulation and small firms. The study explores the challenges faced by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), and other organisations in the Olympic regulatory constellation, when implementing and enforcing the new Olympic legislation; that included the most legally powerful advertising and trading regulations ever enacted in the UK. Research prior to the Games (e.g. James and Osborn, 2011a; 2011b; 2012) only considered the formal wording of the new legislation, e.g. the London Olympic Paralympic Games Act, leading to speculation that the ODA would take a heavy-handed enforcement approach to their engagements with local businesses. Contrastingly, the findings here demonstrate that despite the influence of such far-reaching legislation, managers and enforcement officers at the ODA often chose a discretionary approach in dealing with infringements. While the notion that regulators use discretion in enforcement is not new (see Baldwin, et al., 2000), this thesis has shown why such instances of informal regulatory practice occurred alongside (and despite) the formalisation introduced by the written regulations. Despite the formal omnipotence of the Olympic advertising and trading regulations, the human factor was noted as the key determinant of the balancing act between formal and informal interactions within the regulatory constellation, and in subsequent engagements with businesses. Furthermore, the findings of this research highlight that despite having different legislative environments, the social worlds of London 2012 and the everyday (business-as-usual) were not separate - they overlapped. Therefore, as regulators crossed over to the social world of the Games, social norms that informed their normal, everyday behaviour, as well as an obligation to endorse and enforce those norms, crossed over with them and affected their behaviour and perspective in their engagements with small firms. Additionally, linked to that collective sense of endorsing and enforcing everyday norms at London 2012, regulators’ conceptions of both their organisational identity and self-identity played a significant part in them not always adhering to the formal prescriptions of the Olympic legislation. By shedding light on the mixture of formal and informal practices used by regulators, the thesis has contributed towards a better understanding of regulators’ behaviour and thus has enriched the debate of the impact of regulation on small firms. For example, it was noted that ODA managers and enforcement officers typified local small firms in terms of their likelihood to be non-compliant, or engage in problematic activities during Games Time, adjusting the regulatory relationship with those deemed to be higher risk businesses. Such adjustments to the regulatory relationship with those businesses has implications not only to regulators and the way they operate but naturally to the small firms in question as well.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: Regulation, Regulators Perspective, Small Firms, Formality & Informality, London 2012
Faculty: Theses from Anglia Ruskin University
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2019 15:54
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2019 16:01
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/704075

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