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Discovering Patterns in Regulatory History: Continuity, Change, and Regulatory Regimes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 October 2011

Marc Allen Eisner
Wesleyan University
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From contesting the power of large corporations to nurturing a stable industrial economy, regulatory policies have been created in pursuit of a wide variety of goals. Likewise, regulatory institutions have been designed to address host of administrative demands, to incorporate organized interests into the policy process, and to compensate for specific problems of implementation. One can analyze each expansion of regulatory authority as an independentevent. However, one can bring order to the history of regulation by identifying particular regimes that have emerged during critical periods in U.S. history. When used in international relations, a regime is commonly defined as “a set of principles, norms, rules, and procedures around which actors' expectations converge.” In this context, regimes are important because they “constrain and regularize the behavior of participants, affect which issues among protagonists move on and off agendas, determine which activities are legitimized or condemned, and influence whether, when, and how conflicts are resolved.” While retaining the emphasis on a value-based governance structure, we can define a regulatory regime as a linked set of policies and institutions that condition the relationship between societal interests, the state, economic actors in multiple sectors of the economy. A regime framework focuses attention on points of continuity in policy and institutional change. It facilitates the discovery of patterns in regulatory policies and institutions and provides a useful explanatory and organizational tool.

Copyright © The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA. 1994



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