Prescriptions for justice: Using social accounts to legitimate the exercise of professional control

Sim B. Sitkin, Kathleen M. Sutcliffe, G. Lyman Reed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This paper reports on a field study in which pharmacists had to decide whether to fill a potentially erroneous prescription, and how much information to share with their client about the prescription. The study examined the extent to which the pharmacists relied upon professional, organizational, and legal accounts in explaining their actions to clients. The pharmacists faced a prototypical professional dilemma in balancing the client's desire for information and treatment, professional and organizational standards of conduct, physician's desire for collegial protection, and multiparty interest in legal liabilities (i.e., the pharmacist, their employer, the physician). By examining how these professionals resolved this dilemma, the study contributes to our understanding of how individuals are able to draw selectively on a variety of institutionalized norms to make their potentially questionable actions appear more just.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-111
Number of pages25
JournalSocial Justice Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • accountability
  • control
  • information disclosure
  • legitimacy
  • organizational behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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