Title: The school of broken rules

Authors: Dawn Dobni

Addresses: Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan, 25 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, S7N 5A7, Saskatchewan, Canada

Abstract: Rule violations are central to organisational learning, as they can be sources of useful information about the organisational condition. To help managers interpret and learn from these violations, this study examines the circumstances and motivations that lead employees to judge that rule breaking is appropriate. Content analysis revealed four dimensions on which rule breaks are justified: context (instrumental or expressive), content (reasonableness), consequences (trivial versus serious) and target (self- or other-directed). Understanding these dimensions will help managers respond to rule violations, contemplate their own bureaupathologies and search for more effective ways of organisational functioning.

Keywords: broken rules; rule breaking; organisational learning; organisational routines; positive deviance; negative deviance; rule violations; organisational condition; managers; employees; content analysis; instrumental contexts; expressive contexts; reasonableness; rule content; trivial consequences; serious consequences; self-directed targets; other-directed targets; bureaupathologies; organisational functioning; USA; United States; Canada; North America; innovation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIL.2013.050582

International Journal of Innovation and Learning, 2013 Vol.13 No.1, pp.69 - 77

Published online: 31 Jul 2013 *

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