An evidence synthesis of the academic regulatory failure literature

Regulatory failure is much talked about but little understood. Discussions about regulatory failure are often about different understandings of what can be expected of regulatory governance and public regulation. The rhetoric of regulatory failure (typically a blame game) easily (and often) overshadows the analytical explanation of it (Baldwin, Cave, & Lodge, 2012, Chapter 5; Breyer, 1979; Wilson, 1984). As a result, it remains unknown:

  • What types of failure can be distinguished from the evidence base of the academic literature on regulatory failure;
  • Under what circumstances regulation is likely to fail and how it fails;
  • What strategies are available and have been proven successful in the prevention of regulatory failure.

The aim of this evidence synthesis is to synthesize the evidence base of the academic regulatory failure literature and evaluate the effectiveness (and lack thereof) of strategies to prevent regulatory failure in real-world situations. To this end, this evidence synthesis will answer the following questions:

  1. Under what circumstance, when, and how is regulation likely to fail?
  2. What evidence-based typology can be distilled from the regulatory failure literature?
  3. What strategies are applied by governments and other regulators to prevent regulatory failure and with what level of success?
  4. For questions 1 and 3, if heterogeneity is found in studies on regulatory failure: What is the role of context on the occurrence and prevention of regulatory failure?

The original protocol (10 August 2020) for the evidence synthesis is available here: