Anyone who has worked with numbers that have more than 14 digits has run into ArcMap's wonderful habit of converting any number of such length to e-notation. While changing this is a simple matter of going into the Field Properties and setting the number format, doing this repeatedly for every field in every table grows tiresome. Is there some secret environment setting or method to make number formats default to something besides "Numeric"?
As best as I can tell, the answer is no, one can't set the default number format, not without programming (and for that one would start with INumericFormat as noted by Kirk. See example for Decimal Degree Angle Radian and Currency Format).
Also the numeric display property is stored in the map (.mxd) or layer file (.lyr) and not a property if the table itself, so any changes made interactively or via the programming like the above won't apply to new data. Changing the field numeric type at creation time to doublem, float, etc. won't help either, for the same reason (it's not a field or table property).
Presumably this means the only way forward is to hope someone builds and shares a "change numeric format for all selected layers" button in Arcmap, and/or post a feature request to http://ideas.arcgis.com and hope the powers that be decide it's worth implementing as a user preference.