The Performance Limitations, Operational Strengths, and Political Perils of Multi-Purpose Regulators

2018, Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory

Review of Christopher Carrigan's Structured to Fail? Regulatory Performance under Competing Mandates

Link to article


Christopher Carrigan’s Structured to Fail? Regulatory Performance under Competing Mandates avoids the lure of overly-simple policy panaceas. Carrigan examines the argument that many regulatory failures are attributable to the fact that regulators are often saddled with multiple, often competing, objectives. For example, the assertion that the Federal Reserve’s concurrent obligations to develop monetary policy and regulate banks precipitated the 2008 global financial crisis. Consistent with the claim, he finds that “multi-purpose regulators,” or regulatory agencies charged with both regulatory and non-regulatory goals, indeed perform worse than those whose mandates are limited to regulatory functions or lack significant regulatory responsibilities altogether. Carrigan convincingly argues, however, that the finding should not be interpreted as justification for partitioning multi-purpose regulators into single-function entities. Such a reaction, he reasons, fails to recognize the ability of multi-purpose regulators to leverage intra-agency information sharing and task coordination towards the attainment of multiple desirable policy goals.