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Regulatee Choice in Certification Schemes: Explaining Selection from among Certifier Options

2017, Public Administration

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Voluntary regulatory programmes embody the complex interactions that exist between public organizations and nongovernmental entities in contemporary public administration. This article draws attention to ‘regulatee choice’ in certification programmes, in which programme participants choose from among certifier alternatives. In the context of US organic regulation, regulatee choice is examined through the factors that farmers weigh when selecting from among public, nonprofit, and private certifier options. Drawing on a nation‐wide survey of organic farmers, regulatee choice between public, nonprofit, and private certifiers is found to be differentiated by the importance that regulatees ascribe to certifier reputations and service offerings, as well as regulatee desires to support the organic movement through certification. Regulatee choice between public and nonprofit certifiers is further differentiated by the importance regulatees place on certifiers' perceived regulatory expertise. The article discusses explanations for the findings and the contribution of regulatee choice research.

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