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The Politics of Regulation

Institutions and Regulatory Reforms for the Age of Governance

Edited by Jacint Jordana and David Levi-Faur

This book suggests that the scope and breadth of regulatory reforms since the mid-1980s and particularly during the 1990s, are so striking that they necessitate a reappraisal of current approaches to the study of the politics of regulation. The authors call for the adoption of different and fresh perspectives to examine this area.
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Chapter 4: Institutional Change in Regulatory Policies: Regulation Through Independent Agencies and the Three New Institutionalisms

Fabrizio Gilardi


Fabrizio Gilardi* One of the most widespread institutions of modern regulatory governance is the so-called independent regulator (OECD, 2002, 91) The question remains: can new institutionalists develop institutionalist propositions about institutional change, or a new institutionalist theory/theories of institutions? (Gorges, 2001, 142) 1. INTRODUCTION This book studies regulatory change, and fosters a broad comparative view on regulatory processes and outcomes. The age of governance has seen the expansion of regulation as a distinctive mode of social coordination, both at national and supranational level (Knill and Lenschow, Chapter 10, this book; Jakbo, Chapter 9, this book). The present chapter deals with the institutional side of regulatory change, and more specifically with the establishment, in all countries and many sectors, of independent regulatory agencies (IRAs). Indeed, IRAs are one of the main distinctive features of the regulatory state that has been rising in Europe since the 1990s (Majone, 1997a). They can be defined as public organizations with regulatory powers that are neither directly elected by the people, nor directly managed by elected officials. In other words, they are non-majoritarian institutions (Thatcher and Stone Sweet, 2002) carrying out regulation. Examples include the British Office of Telecommunications (Oftel), the German Bundeskartellamt, the French 67 68 Theories of regulation for the age of governance Commission des opérations de bourse (COB), and the Italian Autorità per l’energia elettrica e il gas, just to name a few. In spite of growing academic interest, many aspects of regulation through IRAs remain unclear, including the basic question of...

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