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Regulatory interpretation: regulators, regulated parties, and the courts

  • Gregory M. Randolph and James P. Fetzner


While regulators, firms, and the courts must all be able to interpret regulations to best address economic and social issues, regulatory interpretation may vary greatly across parties. After introducing a framework to explain the impact of the complexity of written regulations and the complexity of the regulatory environment on regulatory interpretation, this paper utilizes regulatory examples to explore the challenges associated with regulatory interpretation. Several recent initiatives designed to improve regulatory efficacy are examined to assess potential methods available to reduce challenges associated with regulatory interpretation. When considered with the public policy implementation literature and research on networks in public policy, several implications emerge from the consideration of regulatory interpretation and recent regulatory initiatives. Regulators should pursue strategies to minimize the number of possible interpretations in the design of regulation and seek improved regulatory mechanisms to alleviate regulatory interpretation challenges. Furthermore, theoretical models should acknowledge regulatory interpretation to better assist in the design and implementation of regulation.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Gregory M. Randolph, Professor of Economics, Southern New Hampshire University, 2500 N. River Road, Manchester, NH 03106, Tel.: 724-396-8617, email:
James P. Fetzner, President and CEO, Brookside Homes of America, Inc., 5 West 10th Street, Suite 300, Erie, PA 16501


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Regulatory interpretation: regulators, regulated parties, and the courts

  • Gregory M. Randolph and James P. Fetzner


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