Responsive regulation usually boils down to the assumption that enforcers should not shift to coercing before it has become clear that persuading does not work. This presupposes that it is possible to determine what the correct enforcement style is, that enforcers can apply the most suitable style, and that enforcers control the negative unintended consequences of their conduct. We have studied the applicability of these presuppositions at the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority by way of observations, interviews, and a survey. The applicability of all three presuppositions has proven problematic; enforcement agents apply different styles in comparable cases; they are impeded in applying the most appropriate style; and they do not control the perverse consequences of their conduct because regulatees tend to perceive it as more coercive than intended by inspectors. Our findings are not unique to this inspectorate and hence raise questions about the applicability of the theory of responsive regulation.

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Regulation & Governance
Department of Sociology

Mascini, P., & van Wijk, E. (2009). Responsive regulation at the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority: An empirical assessment of assumptions underlying the theory. Regulation & Governance, 3(1), 27–47. doi:10.1111/j.1748-5991.2009.01047.x