Regulatory Innovation

Regulatory Innovation

A Comparative Analysis

Edited by Julia Black, Martin Lodge and Mark Thatcher

Much hype has been generated about the importance of innovation for public and private sector organisations. Regulatory Innovation offers the first detailed study of regulatory innovation in a multiplicity of countries and domains. This book draws on in-depth studies of innovation in regulatory instruments and practices across high- and low-technology sectors, across different countries and from the early to the late 20th century. Highlighting different ‘worlds’ of regulatory innovation – those of the individual, the organization, the state, the global polity, and innovation itself, this book offers a fresh perspective and valuable insights for the practice and study of regulatory innovation.

Chapter 5: Sale of the Century: 3G Mobile Licensing in Europe

Mark Thatcher

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, politics and public policy, regulation and governance


5. Sale of the century: 3G mobile phone licensing in Europe Mark Thatcher INTRODUCTION The licensing of 3G (third generation) mobile phones in Europe represented a major change in the regulation of mobile communications. Discretionary allocation of licences to favoured domestic national champions was replaced with auctions or formalized high-cost beauty contests. Although auctions are an ‘old instrument’, their application in 3G mobile phone licensing can truly be termed a regulatory innovation as it saw major alterations of instruments, the degree of formality, competition, interests served, cost, cross-national learning the positions of incumbent suppliers. Modification of 3G mobile phone licensing represents at least a ‘second-order change’ whereby instruments and techniques are altered, and approaches a third-order change in which policy goals and paradigms are altered (Hall 1993). This chapter analyses 3G mobile phone licensing by drawing primarily on the perspectives offered by the ‘state world’ of innovation, namely the decisions of the state. Its starting points are the claims by interest group and industrial policy literatures that public policy-makers act in the interests of large suppliers and arguments by comparative institutionalist studies that inherited institutional arrangements result in major cross-national differences in innovation. However the analysis also has implications for the individual world of entrepreneurs who are argued to lead innovation and for the ‘world of the innovation’ since it considers how the features of 3G licence auctions in Europe affected their cross-national spread. This chapter explores four general issues that relate to these worlds. First, it discusses the conditions...

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