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date: 25 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article argues that reputation plays a key role in regulatory processes and decisions based on a case study of the British Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). By exploring multiple interactions of the FOS with different actors, such as financial firms, the media, consumers, politicians, and the Financial Services Authority, it reveals the mechanisms through which reputation regulates regulators. Two key streams in the regulatory and public administration literature analyse regulators' management of the attitudes of external stakeholders. Regulators' conceptualisation of their role shapes their impact upon the reputation of regulated firms. They also do not seek positive reputations per se. It is then suggested that regulators are inclined to self-bind, formalise, and rationalise their use of discretion when facing or perceiving high risks to reputation. Regulatory reputation-management strategies are not always consistent with regulatory identity.

Keywords: reputation, FOS, financial firms, media, consumers, politicians, Financial Services Authority, regulators

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