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The Authority to Do Good: Publicly Responsible Behavior among Private Mortgage Lenders

Authors

  • Stephanie Moulton

    Corresponding author
    1. The Ohio State University
      Stephanie Moulton is assistant professor in the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University. Her research focuses on the publicness and performance of nongovernmental organizations engaged in public service, including nonprofit organizations and organizations implementing low-income housing policies and programs. The data collection for this analysis was funded in part through a dissertation research grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
      E-mail:moulton.23@osu.edu
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Stephanie Moulton is assistant professor in the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University. Her research focuses on the publicness and performance of nongovernmental organizations engaged in public service, including nonprofit organizations and organizations implementing low-income housing policies and programs. The data collection for this analysis was funded in part through a dissertation research grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
E-mail:moulton.23@osu.edu

Abstract

Private organizations are increasingly relied on, explicitly and implicitly, to carry out public objectives. But given that profit and public motives are not always aligned, why do private firms behave in publicly responsible ways? Specifically, how do diverse regulative, economic, normative, and cultural influences combine to enable or constrain publicly responsible behavior? This analysis focuses on a specific group of private actors: mortgage lenders. Through semi-structured interviews with private lending agents participating in a public mortgage program, this analysis investigates influences that contribute to publicly responsible behavior. From the interviews, four different publicness dispositions are identified: pecuniary (sensitive to economic and regulative constraints), traditional (sensitive to regulative and isomorphic constraints), altruistic (sensitive to isomorphic and cultural-cognitive influences), and opportunistic (sensitive to multiple influences). Even for organizations (and their actors) operating within the same policy context and the same public program, responses to political authority likely are contingent on varying publicness dispositions.

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