Rewriting the Rules in Asia
Edited by M. Ramesh and Michael Howlett
Chapter 3: Globalisation and National Regulations: Race to the Bottom, Top, and Middle
3. Globalisation and national regulations: race to the bottom, top, and middle M. Ramesh The need for public management reforms to adjust to and accommodate forces unleashed by globalisation has been a major preoccupation for policy makers and commentators in recent years. International organisations, think tanks, and researchers have produced numerous reports highlighting the need for reform in the face of globalisation and proposing the mix of policy instruments they would prefer to be used. The main thrust of much of the effort is to eliminate or at least reduce the burden that regulations and other command and control policy tools supposedly impose on the economy. Notwithstanding the broad support the position enjoys in policy circles, the empirical and intellectual case for it remains under-explored. The purpose of this chapter is to assess the forces that shape the use of regulations in the context of globalisation. Much of the existing literature on the subject treats globalisation as an omnipotent homogenising force leading governments to engage in a race to the bottom or top of the stringency ladder. The chapter will show that this is a wrong way to approach the subject because racing to the bottom or top are not the only options open to governments, as regulations may be tightened and loosened at the same time. Moreover, focus on globalisation alone underestimates the critical role that domestic factors continue to play in shaping regulations. What we have in the area of regulations is imperatives to increase competition in both...
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