Main Research Area: Rule-Breaking and Preventive Action Settings

Rule-breaking by and within organizations can have severe consequences, particularly if it occurs in systematically relevant areas. How do we explain such deviance, and what can be done to effectively prevent it? Organizations such as companies, hospitals, and state bureaucracies face a growing multitude of rules, statutes and laws. At the same time, they are increasingly expected to “self-regulate”. But the evidence of a growing number of court cases and public scandals suggests that organizations and institutions often fail to live up to these expectations. From these observations follows the assumption that more and stricter rules and sanctions alone might not be the answer. Instead, research needs to look at different levels: institutions, organizations and individuals, to locate the obstacles for compliance and identify ways to overcome them.

To answer the above questions, researchers at Heidelberg University have set up an interdisciplinary research group that includes economics, political science, sociology and law, and aims to also include additional disciplines, such as psychology, art history and educational sciences. The group will take an evidence-based approach to provide a stock of scientific work on the effectiveness of preventive measures.

In addition to expanding our scientific knowledge, the communication and transfer of this know-how into practice are at the heart of the project. The question of how to take preventive action in the face of omnipresent collective rule-breaking is relevant to both regulators and the subjects of rule-making. Accordingly, the results of the research project will offer insight and be systematically translated into policy recommendations, rendering the efforts relevant both for science and for practice.

The Main Research Area is part of the Field of Focus IV at Heidelberg University.