WP 4 - Regulatory character and regulatory reform: Exploring the nexus between globalization and safety standards

Author/s (editor/s):

Haines, Fiona

Publication year:


Publication type:

Working paper

Peer Reviewed Publications:

Haines, Fiona. (2003). “Regulatory Reform in Light of Regulatory Character: Assessing Industrial Safety Change in the Aftermath of the Kader Toy factory Fire in Bangkok, Thailand” 12 Social & Legal Studies 4, 461-487.

Haines, Fiona. “Globalization and Regulatory Character: Regulatory reform after the Kader Toy Factory Fire” Part of the Advances in Criminology Series (Nelken, David (Ed)), (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005).

Regulatory effectiveness remains a high priority but an elusive goal for many governments. Regulations change, often spurred by developments in other jurisdictions, notably Scandinavia, the EEC or North America, and justified by the epithet ‘best practice’. An underlying assumption of such reform is that ‘best practice’ will provide an optimal outcome irrespective of the particular economic, political and cultural context within which the regulator has to work. Indeed, it is possible to argue that regulatory scholarship as well as regulation can be seen as part of the range of processes that are defined as ‘globalization’. Scholars such as Nelken (1994) have challenged this assumption in his work comparing of Italian and British regulatory systems, arguing instead for the need to understand regulation as appropriate to cultural context. Scholars working in the Asian context, such as Jayasuriya (2001), are more strident in their criticism. They argue that regulatory reform cannot be effective if it remains at the level of ‘technocratic management’ and does not engage with the economic and political dynamics within the local context. A means of understanding the unique contribution of place in moulding both regulatory reform and its enforcement is sorely needed in order to assess the worth of reforms within a particular context. This paper explores the possibility of regulatory character as a means of understanding the importance of place. Regulatory character extends Selznick’s (1992) concept of organizational character to a regulatory context. Regulatory character involves an understanding of culture, economic and political elements arranged schematically according to the dimensions of authority and social ordering. The paper outlines the construction of the grid and then uses the grid to understand the significance of regulatory reform and regulatory effectiveness in Thailand following the Kader Toy Factory Fire.

Cite the publication as

Haines, Fiona, 2002,_ WP 4 - Regulatory character and regulatory reform: Exploring the nexus between globalization and safety standards_, National Research Centre for OHS Regulation, Canberra

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