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Keywords:

  • Britain;
  • merger control;
  • political economy;
  • regulation;
  • regulatory change

Abstract

This article aims to explain the broader evolution of British merger control. To this end it outlines a novel critical political economy perspective on regulation and regulatory change which differs from established political economy approaches, such as the regulatory capitalism/state perspectives, in three main ways: it places regulatory ideas at the heart of the analysis, it differentiates between different degrees of regulatory change, and it links regulatory change in delineated issue areas with changing power balances between fractions of capital and labor. The application of this perspective to the analysis of the evolution of British merger control provides some important new insights, most notably that the content, form, and scope of merger control in Britain have been deeply transformed in accordance with neoliberal ideas since the 1980s and that this process, which was part of a broader regulatory and ideational shift, was premised on the ascendancy of transnational capital.