Regulatory Capture Recaptured

Date01 July 2014
Published date01 July 2014
Book Reviews 539
edited volume in the best sense, composed of strong
chapters by a stellar cast of contributors. Furthermore,
the sum is more than its parts, as the design and fram-
ing of the volume enhance its overall message that
capture accounts need a more sophisticated approach
and that capture is hardly inevitable.
One of the key contributions of this volume is
the critical engagement with accounts that stress
capture.” As noted by Carpenter and Moss in their
introductory chapter, capture has been a dominant
theme throughout the last few decades, emerging
from a range of intellectual traditions.  e most
dominant account involves the economic theory
of regulation as formulated by Stigler, Peltzman
(1989), and others. According to this account,
concentrated industries are well placed to capture
regulation, as politician-regulators are keen to
enhance their reelection opportunities by granting
favorable regulatory standards to such powerful
interests. Carpenter and Moss def‌i ne “strong” cap-
ture as “the result or process by which regulation,
in law or application, is consistently or repeatedly
directed away from the public interest and toward
the interest of the regulated industry, by the intent
and action of the industry itself ” (13). Such a def‌i -
nition establishes a basis for empirical exploration.
It also sets a high barrier for the actual existence of
capture to be established.  is challenge is taken
further in Carpenter’s chapter on “Detecting and
Measuring Capture” (chapter 3).  is chapter will
become key reading in any course on regulation.
Carpenter distinguishes two kinds of indicators
for two types of capture: “statutory” (i.e., the
legislative basis on which agencies might act) and
“agency” (i.e., where the behavior of the agencies is
seen to be following industry interest).
Daniel Carpenter and David A. Moss, eds., Prevent-
ing Regulatory Capture: Special Interest Inf‌l u-
ence and How to Limit It (New York: Cambridge
University Press, 2013). 530 pp. $70.00 (cloth),
ISBN: 9781107036086; $24.99 (paper), ISBN:
Regulation remains at the front line of politi-
cal controversy. Whether it is because of the
meltdown of f‌i nancial institutions, oil spills,
electricity blackouts, mining disasters, or contami-
nated food, regulatory instruments and organiza-
tions have been criticized for, among other things,
their inaction, their overreach, and their closeness to
regulatory industries. One of the standard accusations
has been “capture”—the idea that dominant industry
interests have succeeded in perverting the intended,
public-interested aims of the regulatory regime,
such as public health, systemic industry viability, or
environmental safety. Whereas this view of capture
is widely associated with calls for “more” or “better”
regulation, the most prominent account of capture, by
George Stigler (1971), is directed at regulation per se.
According to Stigler, regulation “as a rule, is acquired
by the industry and is designed and operated primar-
ily for its benef‌i t.” Regulation is about controlling
market entry. More broadly, the solution to capture is
is highly partisan conf‌l ict over regulation, and in
particular the notion of “capture,” is at the heart of
the volume edited by Daniel Carpenter and David
A. Moss. Simply put, this volume makes a seminal
contribution to the f‌i eld of regulation and to the
debate about the idea of capture itself. It represents a
milestone in policy and academic debates and deserves
to be a reference point for many years to come. It is an
Regulatory Capture Recaptured
Sonia M. Ospina and Rogan Kersh, Editors
Martin Lodge
London School of Economics, United Kingdom
Martin Lodge is professor of political
science and public policy in the Department
of Government and the Centre for Analysis
of Risk and Regulation at the London
School of Economics. His interests are in the
areas of regulation and executive politics.

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