Monsoon Paper Dragons : Transparency, Accountability, Risk, and Compliance in Banking Regulation and Practice

Abstract: This dissertation explores the overall research question of how transparency- and accountability-driven post-crisis financial regulations within the European Union (EU) have influenced risk control and compliance in banks. The dissertation consists of five substantive chapters: an introductory synthesis; a published law journal article; two published book chapters, one of which is an extensive literature review; and one working paper that has previously been presented at multiple international conferences and is currently under review with a European journal in the field of accounting. In answering the call of the main research question, the dissertation adopts an interdisciplinary analytical framework that combines perspectives from law and the social sciences in the context of empirical material from Scandinavia and the EU. The analysis within the four individual papers and the introductory synthesis chapter follow a qualitative research design. They provide several complementary theoretical and empirical contributions to current research, the most important of which are summarized as follows: Theoretically, an adapted framework that harnesses theories of regulation, institutional theory, principal–agent theory, and legal positivism is used to analyze and explain practice and regulatory developments in the Swedish and international banking sector over a pre- and post- 2008 financial crisis period. Additionally, the concepts of transparency and accountability are explored over a similar period in the context of the regulation-practice nexus of banking in Sweden and the EU. Empirically, this work contributes to current understandings and analysis of specific EU and Swedish regulatory instruments, as well as their impact at the firm and intra-firm level. Moreover, the identified conceptual framework of transparency and accountability is applied at the level of markets and regulations, as well as at the intra-firm level by tracing the influence of post-crisis EU regulation on the risk-control and compliance function within a large listed bank in Sweden that has a strong European presence. Collectively, this analysis offers relevant insights into the tensions between the aims and understandings encompassed within prudential regulation on one hand and organizational understandings and approaches towards risk control and compliance on the other hand. Identifying that there are few, if any, studies that address the interplay between regulatory developments and their impact on the internal processes, management, and control of banks, this dissertation offers an analysis of how transparency and accountability can surface and be operationalized within the regulation-practice nexus of banking. Specifically, it illustrates how regulatory impact can be traced further along the dimensions of transparency and accountability at the inter- and intra-firm levels, as well as at the level of financial markets and regulatory instruments in banking.