Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Tim Kuhn

Second Advisor

Matthew Koschmann

Fourth Advisor

Robert T. Craig


As a result of the 2008 financial crisis, there has been renewed focus on issues of financial compliance from practitioners and academics alike. However, it is unclear from current literature exactly what compliance is and how it is created and accomplished. This qualitative case study explores these questions of compliance at a local credit union by taking a communication-as-constitutive approach and using the framework of the authoritative text in understanding compliance. This study identified the characteristics of the authoritative text of compliance and the implications of the authoritative text on the practice of compliance at Mountain Peaks Credit Union (a pseudonym). Three characteristics of the authoritative text were identified: The authoritative text is (1) politically situated and locally enacted, (2) intertwined with credit union identity, and (3) centers on managing risk to the members, the employees, and the credit union. The authoritative text was contested and engaged with through a discourse of common sense, which was used to challenge, supplement and alter the authoritative text. This study demonstrates the complex intertextual interactions that establish authority in organizations and provides a more nuanced explanation of what compliance is and how it is constituted.