Understanding Regulation: Theory, Strategy, and Practice

By Robert Baldwin; Martin Cave | Go to book overview

23
Conclusions

Regulation often appears to be a game in which the rules are uncertain, the method of scoring is in dispute and the distinction between players and spectators is unclear. This is because regulators' mandates tend to be imprecise; identifying good regulation involves contention and rights of participation are often subject to debate. Regulators, moreover, carry out a number of functions that are not always compatible. They not only exercise control--over, for example, monopoly power--but they also act to organize and enable the development of competitive markets. They seek to encourage efficiency but often have to take on board a variety of different social objectives.1 Regulators, furthermore, have constantly to balance various interests and to perform trade-offs of different values. Balances have to be made between providers and consumers; different service providers; commercial and domestic consumers; incumbents and potential new entrants; infrastructure suppliers and operators of services; and a host of other sets of divergent interests.

As for trading-off values, each of the benchmarks discussed in Chapter 6 may have to be weighed against the others in any given context. Should more accountability be established at a given cost in efficiency? Should greater freedom to exercise expert judgements be given in spite of the loss of accountability involved? Should more efficient regulation be sought by reducing access to the regulatory process? These and similar questions have to be faced by regulators on a daily basis.

Nor are there any easy answers. The arguments presented in this book suggest that we should be highly sceptical of regulatory solutions or designs that are couched in terms of single values--notions, for instance, that certain strategies will be efficient and therefore are justifiable and should be pursued without further debate.

It also follows that in such an uncertain and politically contentious world, any regulator will live a precarious existence. No claim to legitimacy that a regulator makes will ever be recognized as clear-cut or beyond argument and, to render life more difficult, no set of regulatory conditions or even public expectations of regulation is liable to remain static.

____________________
1
See T. Prosser, Law and the Regulators ( Oxford, 1997), 304.

-334-

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Understanding Regulation: Theory, Strategy, and Practice
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements v
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Tables x
  • Abbreviations xi
  • I- Introduction 1
  • 1- FUNDAMENTALS 7
  • 2: Why Regulate? 9
  • 3: Explaining Regulation 18
  • 4: Regulatory Strategies 34
  • 5: Who Regulates? Institutions and Structures 63
  • 6- What is 'Good' Regulation? 76
  • 7- The Cost-Benefit Testing Of Regulation 86
  • 8: Enforcing Regulation 96
  • 9: Setting Standards 118
  • 10: Self-Regulation 125
  • 11: Regulating Risks 138
  • 12: Regulation in the European Context 150
  • 13: Regulatory Competition and Coordination 180
  • 14: British Utilities Regulation 190
  • II- PARTICULAR CONCERNS 201
  • 15: Price Setting in Natural Monopolies 203
  • 16- Regulation Versus Competition 210
  • 17- Price-Capping Mechanisms 224
  • 18- Measuring Efficiency: Benchmarking, Yardsticking, and Performance 239
  • 19: Regulating Quality 248
  • 20: Franchising and its Limitations 257
  • 21: Accountability 286
  • 22: Procedures and Fairness 314
  • 23- Conclusions 334
  • Bibliography 337
  • Index 359
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