Edited by David Levi-Faur
Chapter 36: Voluntary Approaches to Regulation – Patterns, Causes and Effects
36 Voluntary approaches to regulation – patterns, causes, and effects Annette Elisabeth Töller The core idea of a Weberian conception of regulation is that the state adopts collectively binding rules which can be sanctioned by courts and, if necessary, implemented by the use of legitimate force. In the light of this conception, voluntary regulation provokes puzzlement. Here there are no binding rules, no role for courts, no forcible implementation by the state, and sometimes no public agency at all (see Kirton and Trebilcock 2004: 9); yet we call it ‘regulation’. The rapid ‘proliferation’ of such forms of ‘self-regulation in the shadow of the state’ is considered as a core element of the ‘new order of regulatory capitalism’ (Levi-Faur 2005: 27). Voluntary regulation can be defined as ‘rule structures . . . that seek to persuade firms to incur nontrivial costs of producing positive externalities beyond what the law requires of them’ (Potoski and Prakash 2009: ix). The term ‘voluntary regulation’ is clearly preferable to other terms such as ‘civil regulation’, ‘private regulation’, ‘cooperative regulation’, ‘negotiated regulation’, ‘third-party regulation’, ‘self-regulation’, ‘regulated regulation’, or ‘soft law’, for several reasons (see for example Gunningham and Rees 1997; Kirton and Trebilcock 2004; Porter and Ronit 2006: 42; Everett et al. 2008; LeviFaur, Chapter 1). First, most of these other terms refer to only part of the meaning of voluntary regulation. For example, with ‘civic’ or ‘civil’ regulation, civic actors (meaning societal but not business actors) play a role in some cases of voluntary regulation but not in...
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