Beyond the Regulation Approach

Beyond the Regulation Approach

Putting Capitalist Economies in their Place

Bob Jessop and Ngai-Ling Sum

This book presents a detailed and critical account of the regulation approach in institutional and evolutionary economics. Offering both a theoretical commentary and a range of empirical examples, it identifies the successes and failures of the regulation approach as an explanatory theory, and proposes new guidelines for its further development.

Chapter 8: Bringing Governance into Capitalist Regulation

Bob Jessop and Ngai-Ling Sum

Subjects: economics and finance, institutional economics, political economy, politics and public policy, political economy, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


This chapter presents a materialist analysis of regulation and governance grounded in the nature of capitalist social formations. Although standard neoclassical theory is concerned only with the role of markets as a coordination mechanism, the regulation approach and other versions of evolutionary and institutional economics also recognize the key contribution of other modes of coordination (or governance) to capitalist reproduction. Reference to markets, hierarchies, networks and other modes of coordination occur systematically in institutional analyses of capitalism. The relative importance of different coordination mechanisms also informs the many and varied attempts to distinguish varieties of capitalism through concepts such as uncoordinated liberal market capitalism; dirigisme, the governed market or developmental state-led capitalism; and corporatism, coordinated capitalism or the negotiated economy. The same broad typology underpins, as we saw earlier, attempts to define the bases of the ‘economic miracle’ in East Asian newly industrializing economies, namely quasi-market economies, developmental states or Confucian capitalism (Chapter 5). Analogous distinctions have been drawn in comparative work on welfare regimes (Esping-Andersen 1985, 1990; Théret 1997; Ebbinghaus and Manow 2001; Scharpf and Schmidt 2000) and types of policy making (Offe 1975b; Considine 2001; Zeitlin and Trubek 2003). We suggest that the recurrence of such distinctions across different domains and disciplines can be explained in terms of specific institutional and organizational features of capitalist social formations. But this in turn poses important questions as to why modes of coordination vary in significance across different stages and varieties of capitalism, across different kinds of...

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