Norm emergence in regulatory compliance

B. Burgemeestre, Joris Hulstijn, Yao-hua Tan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


In their daily activities, people and businesses are subject to all kinds of governmental regulations. There is a great variety in the setup of regulative systems that aim to enforce a subjects’ compliance with these regulations (Burgemeestre, Hulstijn, & Tan, 2009b). A trend in regulatory compliance is to formulate legislation as the so-called open norms: norms which leave room for contextual interpretation about their implementation (Gribnau, 2008). Open norms are considered to be flexible and adaptable to changing and varying circumstances, whereas rules require constant amendment to meet changing circumstances (Ford, 2008). Instances of open norms are principles or regulatory objectives. Unlike rules, open norms do not describe in detail what is permissible or prohibited; they indicate what behavior is expected by abstract principles or general objectives. For example, a recipe may prescribe to add salt “according to taste.” How much salt must be added depends on the cook and his guests. Through experience a cook learns what reasonable quantities of salt are appropriate for different kinds of dishes. So in general, open norms need to be interpreted and operationalized for a specific context. Interestingly, this interpretation and operationalization process itself is a normative process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Complexity of Social Norms
EditorsMaria Xenitidou, Bruce Edmonds
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9783319053080
ISBN (Print)9783319053073
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2014
Externally publishedYes


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