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Regulatory Capacity and Networked Governance

Ciara Brown and Colin Scott

Contemporary regulation in Ireland, as elsewhere, is frequently characterised by a high degree of interdependence between government, agencies, regulatees and others. We argue in this paper that a central response of actors within regulatory spaces to the recognition of such interdependencies is to participate in and actively use networks as a means of accessing the capacity of others within a policy domain. Informal and, increasingly, formalised networks are significant and nearly ubiquitous for organisations within major regulatory regimes in Ireland at both national level, in supporting the gathering and deployment of knowledge by government and others, but also at supranational level in underpinning processes of policy learning and exchange of operational information, and bolstering capacity of national actors. Whilst networks frequently have positive value, sometimes their operation undermines the capacity of a regime to deliver, as where social networks inhibit appropriate stringency in oversight and enforcement. Recognition of the limits of regulatory governance in Ireland have been met by a search for and enrolment of the capacity of others, involving, simultaneously greater use both of authority and network modes of governance.


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