Corporate Regulation: Beyond 'Punish or Persuade'

Corporate Regulation: Beyond 'Punish or Persuade'

Corporate Regulation: Beyond 'Punish or Persuade'

Corporate Regulation: Beyond 'Punish or Persuade'

Synopsis

Corporate Regulation provides an in-depth examination of what changes in contemporary capitalism mean for regulatory policy-making and the social science study of regulation. Haines draws inspiration from Marx, Weber, and organization theory, as well as criminology, to encourage theoreticians and policy-makers to broaden their conception of the problem of regulation. She argues for a new view of regulation which accounts for the ways in which changing economic circumstances, such as contracting-out, privatization, and globalization, affect the ethics of corporate behavior.

Excerpt

Regulation only established itself as an important focus for socio-legal research in the 1980s, with the publication of a number of studies of regulatory enforcement. These early analyses provided evidence of some of the realities of regulatory practices for a number of scholars who were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with traditional command-and-control approaches in regulation. The result was a number of publications, many by researchers at work in Australia, addressed to the question of how regulatory systems might be better designed to achieve greater effectiveness and efficiency.

Fiona Haines' book is the most recent work of this kind to have been produced in Australia. As its subtitle suggests, it reaches beyond earlier studies of regulation to rethink strategies of regulatory control. The work's starting point is the current dissatisfaction with command-and-control regulation and it goes on to consider the economic and political conditions under which compliance with regulation can be achieved. Taking the example of occupational safety as the basis for her analysis, Dr Haines shows how companies respond differently to fatalities in the workplace, analysing comparatively how large and small firms react to regulatory control, and showing how organisations behave in the social context of the everyday pressures routinely affecting firms.

This book is, however, much more than another empirical analysis. It is theoretically innovative. One of its concerns is to explore the extent to which regulatory institutions can be designed to encourage "virtue" in the business community, while retaining the ability to act more stringently when this approach fails. To do this, the author develops the virtue-based literature on regulation in various ways and combines this approach with broader theoretical perspectives. She considers how the changing character of contemporary capitalism relates to the capacity of regulatory systems to encourage virtuous corporate behaviour, with an analysis informed primarily by those theorists who have been concerned with the nature of capitalism, particularly Marx, Weber, and David Harvey.

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