Regulating Virtue: The Rise of Compliance Bureaucracy in IRB
- 12:00 pm on Monday, April 22, 2019
- 1:30 pm on Monday, April 22, 2019
- Contact Name:
- Deborah Carr
Once upon a time, Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) at academic hospitals and research universities resembled peer review committees. Charged with protecting human research subjects from ethical abuses, they were typically run by faculty volunteers with minimal clerical assistance. During the last decade of the 20th century, however, these boards began to transform into compliance bureaucracies: offices run by specialized staff, tasked with aligning their employers with government rules. Dr. Sarah Babb shows how this profound transformation was engendered by federal agencies' growing demand for tight adherence to the letter of the regulations, and use it to illustrate and theorize an important and growing phenomenon: the delegation of regulatory functions to local administrative offices. IRBs’ journey from peer-review to compliance bureaucracy illuminates the weaknesses, strengths, and peculiarities of American governance.