Regulatory problems in the public sector: Theories and cases

Rachel Ashworth*, George A. Boyne, Richard M. Walker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


We develop a framework for assessing the extent of regulatory problems, and propose three hypotheses on the reasons for variations in these problems across the public sector. Five theoretical regulatory problems are identified: regulatee resistance, ritualistic compliance, regulatory capture, performance ambiguity and gaps in data. Our case study evidence on organisations in Wales suggests that regulatory capture and performance ambiguity are the most pronounced problems, and are more prevalent in local than in national services. Regulatory problems are negatively associated with the number of regulatory mechanisms, but are not related to the publicness or professionalisation of the organisations under regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-211
Number of pages17
JournalPolicy and Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Public sector
  • Regulation
  • Services
  • Wales


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