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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 6: Accountability and Transparency in Regulation: Critiques, Doctrines and Instruments

Martin Lodge


Martin Lodge1 The widely proclaimed rise of the regulatory state (Majone, 1997; Loughlin and Scott, 1997; Moran, 2002) has led to a renewed emphasis on debates concerning accountability and transparency. The perception of limited accountability and transparency of regulatory regimes has been at the forefront of criticisms by the media, the wider public, business and so-called public interest groups. For example, debates emerged to the extent to which regulators should be obliged to report to parliamentary committees and how transparent their decision-making should be vis-à-vis government departments, the industry and, more widely, citizens. Similarly, accountability and transparency have also become prominent features in the talk about ‘governance’, as promoted by diverse groups and organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the OECD, and by nongovernmental organizations, for example ‘Transparency International’. Universal endorsement by such a diversity of actors suggests that the appeal of these terms is primarily based on them meaning different things to different people. Questions of who is accountable and transparent, to whom and on what terms therefore represent crucial dimensions in any regulatory regime and therefore deserve critical analysis. In addition, three partly overlapping discussions make the study of ‘who is accountable to whom and for what’ in the regulatory state particularly pertinent: first, questions as to the changing nature of policy-making and the impact of such institutional change on the quality of citizenship; second, questions of designing control mechanisms as discussed in the principal–agent literature; and third, debates as to...

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