Self-Regulation Versus Command and Control? Beyond False Dichotomies

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217 Citations (Scopus)


The search for regulatory alternatives to command and control has led many commentators to promote, or at least contemplate, the use of self‐regulation to improve the environmental performance of industry. However, much of the current debate has been characterized by a choice between two mutually exclusive policy options: “strict” command and control on one hand, and “pure” self‐regulation on the other. In fact, there is a much richer range of policy options, with most falling somewhere between theoretically polar extremes. This article demonstrates that there are a number of “regulatory variables” which policymakers can use to “fine‐tune” regulatory options to suit the specific circumstances of particular environmental issues. In the vast majority of circumstances, a combination of self‐regulation and command and control will provide the ideal regulatory outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-559
Number of pages31
JournalLaw & Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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