Delegation in the Regulatory State

Delegation in the Regulatory State

Independent Regulatory Agencies in Western Europe

Fabrizio Gilardi

During the past 25 years, independent regulatory agencies have become widespread institutions for regulatory governance. This book studies how they have diffused across Europe and compares their formal independence in 17 countries and seven sectors. Through a series of quantitative analyses, it finds that governments tend to be more prone to delegate powers to independent regulators when they need to increase the credibility of their regulatory commitments and when they attempt to tie the hands of their successors. The institutional context also matters: political institutions that make policy change more difficult are functional equivalents of delegation. In addition to these factors, emulation has driven the diffusion of independent regulators, which have become socially valued institutions that help policymakers legitimize their actions, and may even have become taken for granted as the appropriate way to organize regulatory policies.

Chapter 5: Interdependent Delegation: The Diffusion of Independent Regulators Agencies

Fabrizio Gilardi

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


5. Interdependent delegation: the diffusion of independent regulatory agencies INTRODUCTION In the age of globalization, the statement that countries are interdependent has become commonplace. This idea is, however, much older. In the social sciences it dates at least to 1889, when at an anthropology conference Sir Francis Galton criticized the work of a fellow scholar for not taking into account the possibility of reciprocal cultural influence among societies (Ross and Homer, 1976). Since then, ‘Galton’s problem’ has been used to indicate a technical problem that potentially afflicts all comparative studies: namely that the assumption that observations are independent from each other does not hold. This issue is treated in most methodology textbooks, although just in passing. In many cases, comparative researchers acknowledge the problem, but then move on as if it were not really important. So far we have done the same; in Chapter 4 we compared delegation to independent regulators in 17 countries and seven sectors by assuming that the formal independence of a regulator in one country and sector is not related to the formal independence of regulators in other countries and sectors.1 This assumption is abandoned in this chapter. The reason is not methodological but substantive. In effect, a consequence of interdependence is that policies can diffuse internationally. In other words, delegation to IRAs may have taken place in an interdependent process where this institutional form has diffused across countries and sectors. The pattern we saw in Figure 1.1 is a...

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