Rule Networks and Rule Change: How Do Citation Ties Affect Rule Revisions?
Dr. Kejia ZHU
PhD in Business Administration (Specialized in Organization Theory)
Sauder School of Business
University of British Columbia
Rules do not operate in isolation. Rules – in organizations and elsewhere – are naturally interdependent with other rules pertinent to similar or related action, and often they form rule networks that structure entire organizations and jurisdictions. Although rule networks are a common phenomenon, their effects on rule change have found little attention so far. That is somewhat unfortunate as connections between rules can have powerful implications for their functioning and their elaboration. We build on prior research on rule-based learning to explore how rule networks contribute to the Dynamics of Rules. We focus on rules’ ego networks and examine how their characteristics shape the exposure of focal rules to other rules and how this leads to rule revisions. We distinguish three dimensions of rule network exposure – liability exposure, redundant exposure, and new exposure – and find that they significantly affect revisions of healthcare rules in a Canadian regional healthcare organization. Overall, our study offers strong support for the view that the dynamics of embedded rules is shaped by their networks. The general perspective arising from our study is that rule networks play a fundamental role for the creation and transformation of organizational and social order.