Evolution of the Theory and Practice of Economic Regulation: The Next Stage
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Instytut Nauk Ekonomicznych PAN
Submission date: 2017-10-16
Acceptance date: 2018-04-25
Publication date: 2018-06-30
GNPJE 2018;294(2):49-72
This paper discusses the evolution of the theory and practice of economic regulation, in particular its latest stage. In the first part, the analysis concentrates on the theoretical aspect of the process. In this context, the paper points to the impact of asymmetry of information on a gradual shift of economic regulation from an approach in which regulation is viewed as a substitute of a competitive market to one that triggers market behaviours by involving companies and their customers in the regulatory process. In the second part, the author focuses on the implementation aspect, i.e. how the latter concept could be adapted to regulatory practice. Even though this concept has long been implemented in the United States as well as Canada through so-called negotiated settlements, such regulatory arrangements were until recently neglected in research reports, including those in America. The latest wave of interest in this form of regulation, particularly in the UK and Australia, is mainly due to its many advantages as demonstrated by the North American experience. The author explores the benefits of negotiated settlements against the background of doubts raised in an ongoing debate on whether such settlements are free from risks and whether they can be effectively applied elsewhere. While noting some encouraging early results in several regulated sectors in the UK, the author stresses two crucial conditions for the successful implementation of this approach: a careful design of the new regulatory arrangements and a pro-active role of the regulator. The paper’s final comments refer to the perspective of further evolution of economic regulation and the rationale for the adoption of negotiated mechanisms in regulating Poland’s district heating sector.
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