Faculty Author Type

Current Faculty [Cristie Ford]

Published In

Regulation and Governance

Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Responsive Regulation; scalability; financial regulation; Basel II; responsiveness; complexity; uncertainty


Ian Ayres’s and John Braithwaite’s book Responsive Regulation: Transcending the Regulatory Debate (1992) gave us many significant insights. The book has transcended its own time. At the same time, on the 20th anniversary of its publication, two things about Responsive Regulation are striking. The first is the direct, personal relationship on which the regulatory interaction is premised. The second is the boundedness and manageability of the regulatory project. At least in prudential regulation of global financial institutions in the wake of the recent financial crisis (though surely elsewhere too), neither of these features can be taken for granted. This brief essay seeks to open a preliminary conversation about Responsive Regulation in terms of its scalability. It considers whether as a practical matter, Responsive Regulation can be scaled up to more diffuse, multiparty, logistically complex contexts, such as financial regulation. As a matter of representation, it asks whether by projecting outward from its focal object, the responsive relationship, Responsive Regulation distorts our image of regulation in other contexts (or even in Responsive Regulation’s own home environment). The essay closes by arguing that in order to incorporate Responsive Regulation’s considerable discursive and relational benefits into regulatory environments such as global financial regulation, it needs to be buttressed by additional regulatory technologies.

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