Which Fox in What Henhouse and When? Conjectures on Regulatory Capture



This article takes an interdisciplinary lens to the treatment of regulatory capture (RC). RC ensues when government bureaucrats, regulators, and public sector agencies receive adverse publicity for ceasing to serve the wider collective public interest. The work is divided into four sections. The first takes the point of view of each of the participants in the capture situation and provides an overview of the three variations on the RC story. Each subsequent section focuses on a version of the story. RC 1, the libertarian free market version celebrates capture as inevitable and desirable. RC 2, the regulators' communitarian take on capture places it in the context of a cycle story with regulators dutifully doing the public's shifting will. In the RC 3 version, the public finds it difficult to piece together a coherent version of the morally charged narrative. The article concludes with a discussion of the relevance of each of these three versions of RC in order to understand dominant–submissive relationships between business and government.