Formality at Work
Since the near collapse of the financial markets and their institutes in 2008, a cry for "more regulation" and "closer control" resounded in the media as well as in political and academic comments. The regulation of financial markets seems to have failed. Against this background the study brings a somehow different view by investigating how formality itself - i.e. rules, regulation, procedures, standards and the like - is enacted and made sense of within the organizational context of one medium sized Swiss bank. It provides thus a chance to situate and confront the current public discourse with the varied, discursive repertoire that can be traced within one banking system. Rather than to argue for "more or less", the study draws attention to the social-discursive processes in/through which practices of formality are embedded and enacted. Besides the "practical" relevance of this study, the author engages with theoretical relevance as he elaborates a more recent, conceptual approach which follows the so-called practice turn in organization studies, and contributes with a theoretical model that explains how various discursive understandings of formality can be integrated around the dimensions of “flexibility” and “capacity”.