Compliance, Enforcement and Regulatory Excellence

Author/s (editor/s):

Gunningham, Neil

Publication year:


Publication type:

Book chapter

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Exactly how should an excellent regulator intervene in the affairs of regulated organ izations to ensure compliance (and arguably overcompliance)and facilitate enforcement? That question motivates this chapter, which is about the “intervention strategies” used for compliance and enforcement rather than about “resource allocation.” In the absence of any consensus as to what criteria an excellent intervention strategy should satisfy, I accept the convention that the principal criteria for choosing an intervention strategy should be effectiveness and efficiency. In the majority of cases, the effectiveness of any intervention in reaching a social or economic target (that is, reducing social or economic harm) and its effi ciency (doing so at least cost) will be the primary concern of policymakers. Legitimacy or political acceptability, including positive public perceptions of the regulator, is also impor tant. As will become apparent, though, regulators inevitably must make tradeoffs between all of these criteria. There are, of course, many other aspects of regulatory excellence beyond compliance and enforcement. But compliance and enforcement are core concerns for any regulator, because laws that are not effectively implemented will rarely achieve their social and economic goals. This chapter proceeds by summarizing seven different intervention strategies before identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each. It then goes on to argue that different strategies are suited to different contexts, that account must be taken of the differing characteristics and motivations of various types of regulations and regulators, and that combinations of strategies often provide better outcomes than single strategies.Attention then turns to the role of “beyond compliance” mechanisms, to the potential to harness third parties as regulatory surrogates, and to the need for adaptation and resilience. Although no single template exists for achieving regulatory excellence in all regulatory fields, various signposts can be identified that point regulators toward that goal.

Cite the publication as

Gunningham, Neil (2016). ‘Compliance, Enforcement and Regulatory Excellence’, in Achieving Regulatory Excellence, C Coglianese (ed), Brookings Institution Press


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