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In an August 4, 2016 article, Corporate Counsel cited Venable partner Michael Manley's recent piece, "Defining Culture: Can Firm Culture Be Regulated?" on the regulation of corporate culture. Manley’s article focuses on company surveys by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to assess whether culture is an outcome of bad behavior or a cause.

"The evolution from a focus on 'culture of compliance' to a survey and evaluation of firm culture is a significant development in the regulatory landscape," Manley writes. Citing a FINRA reference to behavioral research into why honest people do dishonest things, he adds, "For the first time, regulatory oversight may include behavioral psychology in its calculus, not only for individuals, but also for institutions. Is this a logical extension of prior learning, or is it a brave new world where regulators boldly go?"

Supporting an empirical approach, Manley says, "The industry needs clear, objective guidance from its regulators to address substantive issues. Regulation of firm culture risks a subjective interpretation of vague standards. If firm culture will be regulated, let's identify a methodology supported by empirical data that allows for clear and objective evaluations… Regulation of firm culture would be a dramatic extension of [the compliance] landscape. If this is where the industry is headed, we must ensure that the regulation of firm culture is based on facts, objective methodologies and clear regulatory guidance."