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International Handbook on Privatization

Edited by David Parker and David Saal

Privatization has dominated industrial restructuring programs since the 1980s and continues to do so. This authoritative and accessible Handbook considers all aspects of this key issue, including: the theory of privatization; privatization in transition, developed and developing economies; as well the economic regulation of privatized industries.
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Chapter 24: Comparing Regulatory Systems

Anthony Ogus


Anthony Ogus Introduction This chapter explores the institutional frameworks and legal forms which are used in different jurisdictions to implement the collective goals explicit or implicit in government regulation.1 Its content is relevant to an analysis of the regulation of privatized utilities, though it goes beyond this. It will focus in particular on what has been generally called ‘economic regulation’, the regulation of prices and quality of services supplied in a market characterized by natural monopoly conditions. However, at points it will refer to ‘social regulation’, or those areas of state intervention generally justified by reference to externalities and information asymmetries (Ogus, 1994:4–5). We will consider the characteristics of regulatory systems under two main headings: ● ● institutional, for example whether the regulator is a branch of government or an agency, to a greater or lesser extent independent of government, and the principles of accountability; and procedural and managerial, for example any requirements of transparency of decision making and internal systems of considering costs and benefits. However, as soon as we leap into comparisons between national systems, we realize that there is a risk of oversimplification if little account is taken of the cultural and constitutional context in which the regime is to be found (Daintith, 1988). By way of illustration, take the case of licensing (say) taxis. We may find a strong resemblance between the regimes in two different jurisdictions: similar conditions may be stipulated for the grant of a licence, and similar processes...

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