Fabrizio Gilardi and Martino Maggetti 14.1 INTRODUCTION The thesis of the “rise of the regulatory state,” put forward most forcefully by Majone (1994, 1997) well over a decade ago, has proved to be more accurate than many skeptics thought. Regulation has indeed become one of the main governance forms, and the breadth of its spread, across both policy areas and countries, has led some authors to conclude that we are witnessing the rise of a new type of political economy, namely “regulatory capitalism” (Levi-Faur 2005, 2006a). This powerful trend is epitomized by the worldwide establishment and strengthening of independent regulatory agencies, that is, regulators that are not under the direct control of elected politicians. More precisely, they are highly specialized bodies that hold considerable public authority while enjoying the highest discretionality in the public sector (Majone 1996), because they are institutionally and organizationally disaggregated from the ordinary bureaucracy (Verschuere et al. 2006) and constitutionally separated from elected politicians (Thatcher 2002). This type of regulatory authority was once confined to specific sectors (such as financial markets) or countries (the United States), but it has now become common in many policy areas and all countries (Jordana et al. forthcoming). Prominent examples include the Financial Services Authority in Britain, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, and the Bundeskartellamt in Germany. This phenomenon is not an academic curiosity; its consequences are concrete and wide-ranging. The spread of independent regulators means that more and more aspects of our lives are shaped by...
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