An evidence synthesis of the academic responsive regulation literature

In 1992, Ayres and Braithwaite published Responsive Regulation. The responsive regulation strategy introduced in the book has become one of the most discussed regulatory strategies in the academic literature (Braithwaite, 2011; Parker, 2013). Yet, it remains unknown:

  • Whether (on average) responsive regulation outperforms the (counterfactual) regulatory strategies it replaces (i.e., traditional government-led command and control regulation, or laissez-fair market competition)
  • Under what circumstances responsive regulation works best.

Synthesizing the empirical knowledge base of the responsive regulation literature may help to fill these knowledge gaps. The aim of this evidence synthesis is to evaluate the effectiveness (and lack thereof) of responsive regulation applied to real-world situations. To this end, this evidence synthesis will answer the following questions:

  1. What is the breadth, purpose and extent of research activity on responsive regulation?
  2. Compared to the (counterfactual) regulatory strategies that responsive regulation replaces (i.e., traditional government-led command and control regulation, or laissez-faire market competition), what is the (average) comparative effectiveness of responsive regulation in achieving regulatory goals?
  3. What are the advantages and limitations of responsive regulation compared to the strategies it replaces (i.e., traditional government-led command and control regulation, or laissez-faire market competition)?
  4. For questions 2 and 3, if heterogeneity is found in studies on responsive regulation: Under what circumstances, in what situations, and for whom does responsive regulation provide better outcomes than the strategies it replaces (i.e., traditional government-led command and control regulation, or laissez-faire market competition)?

The original protocol (17 March 2020) for the evidence synthesis is available here:

A slightly updated version of the protocol (15 May 2020) is available here: