Intermediary Attributes, Regulatee Experiences, and Perceived Expertise in Third-Party Regulation

2019, Administration & Society

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Expertise is a common rational for relying on third-party intermediaries in the administration of regulatory standards. Yet, little is known regarding how perceived competence varies across the diversity of intermediaries observed in empirical regulatory settings. This article offers a better understanding of perceived intermediary expertise through an examination of regulatee perceptions of certifier competence in the administration of U.S. organic regulations. From the results of a nationwide organic producer survey, the article concludes that what intermediaries look like matters less than how they fulfill their regulatory functions. These results suggest that diverse intermediaries have the potential to be similarly effective at supporting regulatory program goals, and that program credibility is not inherently threatened by an administratively diverse third-party landscape.