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I've done very little research on this simply because it doesn't seem like something that would be easy to find and it does seem like something better left for Russian natives, teachers, linguists, and the like. It was brought to my attention when I saw the phrase по его́ прика́зу in a transcript for this video. I then went to Wiktionary for more information on the word "по":

When I went back to the phrase по его́ прика́зу to check its case, I was a little surprised that prepositional case had not been used:

especially after seeing the example given here:

I even went back to the video:

to see if the transcript matched the audio. (It does.)

So, well, this confused me because if ever there was a time when по should take prepositional, I would think it would be in a phrase like "on his order." I resigned myself to just learning these as I go, when I got to wondering if there might be a way to make an educated guess with this word in the future. For example, if, most of the time, the dative is used with по when it means on, and I decline the noun that follows with the dative, I can expect to get it right most of the time and learn the exceptions as I go.

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    I think in the given sentence "по его приказу" is closer in meaning to "according to his order", not "after his order". And "according to" requires dative case (#6).
    – guest-418
    Aug 10 at 16:02
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    Yep, according to his order or, maybe, following his order is a better match for this usage of по его приказу (also, по его совету/просьбе, etc.)
    – tum_
    Aug 10 at 16:09
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    Just wanted to chime in with the other comments above. Whatever is done on/following an order, may not be done immediately after the order. It's a different meaning from 'upon arrival' etc. Aug 10 at 16:40
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Indeed, "по" + prepositional case has the meaning "upon / immediately after": по приезде, по окончании.

However, in modern coloquial speech you would often hear dative in the same construct: по приезду, по окончанию. If you were to use dative in an essay, your teacher would certainly mark it as an error.

"По его приказу" (on his order) does not have the same meaning as above. An order may be enacted centuries after being issued.

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    Just an addition: while "по окончании" is still very much used in prepositional case, "по приезде" sounds too bookish/old style, virtually everyone is using dative "по приезду" now (and even 30 years ago as well).
    – Alexander
    Aug 11 at 18:47
  • A short answer, but with a lot of good details more than sufficient for the green check mark. I guess the part I was missing is that "по его приказу" doesn't have to be enacted right away. I now know that immediacy is important in its use with the prepositional. Good to know. Спасибо!
    – Lisa Beck
    Aug 17 at 9:27

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