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Outsourcing the Law

A Philosophical Perspective on Regulation

Pauline Westerman

Not only can services such as cleaning and catering be outsourced, but also governmental tasks such as making, applying and enforcing the law. Outsourcing the law is usually recommended for its cost-efficiency, flexibility, higher rates of compliance and its promise of deregulation. However, lawmaking is not the same as cleaning and rules are more than just tools to achieve aims. In this timely book, Pauline Westerman analyses this outsourcing from a philosophical perspective.
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Chapter 5: Outsourcing democracy

Pauline Westerman


Chapter 5 examines the claim that outsourcing legislation would contribute to enhanced democratic control. Two types of Principal-Agent relationships are contrasted: the relation between outsourcer and outsourcee and the relation between electorate and representative. On the basis of criteria borrowed from exchange-theory, it is argued that the distribution of power tends to be more advantageous for the outsourcer than for the electorate. Since in an outsourcing regime Agents tend to take the role of Principal, thus creating an additional intermediate layer, the possibilities for democratic control are further reduced. Furthermore, those who are vulnerable to malperformance by the Agent may not be (fully) represented by the Principal, who does not directly suffer the consequences of such malperformance itself.

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