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Keeping control of regulation? Domestic constraints on the creation of independent authorities in emerging and developing economies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-564
Number of pages20
Issue number2
Early online date15 Jul 2020
Accepted/In press15 Jun 2020
E-pub ahead of print15 Jul 2020
PublishedApr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: Previous versions of this paper have benefitted from feedback provided during seminars at the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI), KCL's Dickson Poon School of Law, the Bavarian School of Public Policy, and the 2019 International Conference on Public Policy in Montreal. We are also grateful for the generous feedback provided by Fulya Apaydin, Tim B?the, Claudio Calcagno, Russ Damtoft, Jacint Jordana, Yannis Karagiannis, Dann Naseemullah, Chris Townley, Chris Walker, two anonymous reviewers, and the editors. We would like to thank Alejandra Guill?n Lazo for her excellent research assistance, and the London Interdisciplinary Social Science (LISS) Partnership for funding the data collection. Finally, we should note that the information and views set out in this article do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Commission. Publisher Copyright: © 2020 The Authors. Governance published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.


King's Authors


Regulatory independence has become an international norm over the past decades. Yet, governments in some emerging and developing economies have eschewed the model. We argue that this outcome is shaped by the domestic institutional context; in particular, authoritarianism and traditions of state control over the economy. Analyzing new data on the adoption and operation of independent competition authorities between 1990 and 2017, we find that authoritarianism and, to some extent, state-led economic traditions negatively affect formal adoption. By contrast, these institutional constraints do not have much impact on the start of the operations, which seems to be driven primarily by capacity and economic need. Our findings shed light on domestic institutional constraints on the spread of international norms and the limits of “regulatory transplants” in the Global South.

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