Edited by Soonhee Kim, Shena Ashley and Henry W. Lambright
Chapter 10: Regulation in crisis: reputation, capacity and limitations
Regulation has been at the frontline of public administration and public policy research throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. It is one of the inherent activities that are associated with government: government classifies, inspects, licenses, prohibits and sanctions. It is therefore not surprising that the field of regulation has witnessed considerable debate. In the world of practice, the debate about regulation has taken on a highly adversarial tone in the United States, where regulation is often accused of being ‘captured’ by dominant interests (Carpenter and Moss, 2014). Whereas for some, therefore, the diagnosis of ‘capture’ justifies the elimination of regulation, for others, ‘capture’ represents the basis for strengthened regulatory procedures and capacities. In the world of research, regulation has also been a matter of considerable attention, ranging from issues relating to accountability and control to those concerned with the insulation of bureaucracy from political processes. These debates are long-standing and have received repeated bursts of interests in light of empirical events, methodological advance, and theoretical agendas. The financial crisis offers a good punctuating episode to question whether the practice and study of regulation require a period of reflection. This chapter argues that, in fact, both the worlds of practice and research are in crisis. By taking a reputation-based perspective on regulatory capacity, this chapter points to the limitations of contemporary agendas, and suggests how an international conversation about regulation can be taken forward.
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