Academic and Professional Articles on Regulation


Rembrandt Scholar at Lectern Writing

These are our choice for best articles on regulation, academic and professional. Personal choices of course. Articles that moved regulatory scholarship and strategy beyond a legislative perspective.

The paper is set in the context that Command and Control (CaC), has failed, legalism is limited in its ability to change social behaviour. The Regulatory Space concept takes the position that legalistic rules are just one element in a space which includes community, cultural and market domains.  The concept encourages the adoption of multiple strategies of regulatory intervention and leverage, not abandoning CaC, but recognising the variety of modes of social organisation and governance found in the regulatory space, for example, hierarchies, markets and networks. The concept opens up a wider view of regulation as responsive/smart (Braithwaite/Gunningham) and as being ‘decentred’ from its legalistic domain (Black), that there are other rules, values and priorities that those regulated must consider. A key article that moved us on from legalism to considering the environments in which legal instruments are negotiated.

Policy makers want to change the behaviour of citizens to tackle a range of acute social problems such as obesity, climate change, crime, binge drinking, petty crime and community cohesion. Even though behaviour change interventions generate fears about the rise of a `nanny’ or `big brother’ state, politicians of many political hues appear to have overcome their liberal qualms. They are prepared to use the power of the state to try to change civic behaviour for the wider benefit. The key to getting political consensus in this controversial policy is the idea that citizens are not being told what to do, but rather they are being asked to make choices. The ‘think think’ perspective is based on deliberation and dialogue, citizens parliaments for example, people can make rational choices that do not rely on self interest. The article discusses the relative merits of both approaches – our interest is how far we can use these techniques at the person to person to group level.

The article builds on the ‘regulatory space’ concepts suggesting characteristics of a decentred space, decentred from its legalistic domain.

Decentred regulation:

  • Is complex
  • Is fragmented in terms of knowledge and value bases and in the forms and location of control
  • Recognises the autonomy of social actors
  • Takes into account the interactions and interdependencies in the process of regulation
  • Is creative in its approach to the collapse of the public/private distinction.

The prescription is that regulation should be indirect, focusing on interactions between the system and its environment. It should be a process of co-ordinating, steering, influencing, and balancing inter- actions between actors/systems, and of creating new patterns of interaction which enable social actors/systems to organize them- selves.

You can see how these ideas are used and illustrated in our article on standards.