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Reputation Matters in the Regulatory State: Re-thinking the Fundamentals of Regulatory Independence, Credibility and Accountability

Objective

RICA will fundamentally challenge, reconceptualise and redefine core foundational assumptions of the regulatory state. Arm’s length governance and regulatory independence have become the cornerstone normative and institutional design principles of the European regulatory state. Regulatory credibility is premised on agency insulation from politics with major systemic implications in the form of a rise in non-majoritarianism and a parallel devaluation of the political process. Efforts to compensate through alternative sources of input legitimacy have proven challenging. Conceptualised in a rational-choice tradition, accountability is seen to be in a zero-sum relationship with regulatory autonomy. Bolstering accountability is said to threaten autonomy, undermining the system’s normative foundations.
Informed by insights from the political science literature on reputation, RICA profoundly questions these assumptions. It does so in two separate and interlocking tracks. Module 1 theorises about, and tests, the established wisdom of a wholesale positive relation between agency insulation and credibility. To the contrary, from a reputational perspective, a strategy of insulation is expected to have a negative effect on regulatory credibility, with overall delegitimising effects. Similarly informed by reputation insights, Module 2 challenges dominant understandings of accountability and puts forward the building blocks of a new theory of public accountability. The module draws out and studies empirically how reputation shapes the accountability behaviour of regulatory actors, both account-holders and account-givers, and their interactions. It will re-conceptualise the role played by accountability in the regulatory state as well as its relationship with autonomy. In contrast to dominant understandings, as a mechanism of reputation-building, accountability can reinforce autonomy with sweeping implications for regulatory control strategies and institutional design choices.

Host institution

STICHTING VU
Net EU contribution
€ 338 266,50
Address
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Netherlands

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Region
West-Nederland Noord-Holland Groot-Amsterdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (3)

STICHTING VU
Netherlands
Net EU contribution
€ 338 266,50
Address
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam

See on map

Region
West-Nederland Noord-Holland Groot-Amsterdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
THE UNIVERSITY OF EXETER

Participation ended

United Kingdom
Net EU contribution
€ 0,00
Address
The Queen's Drive Northcote House
EX4 4QJ Exeter

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Region
South West (England) Devon Devon CC
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
UNIVERSITEIT LEIDEN

Participation ended

Netherlands
Net EU contribution
€ 1 106 585,50
Address
Rapenburg 70
2311 EZ Leiden

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Region
West-Nederland Zuid-Holland Agglomeratie Leiden en Bollenstreek
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00