Sub-theme 32: The Privatization of Regulation

Marie-Laure Salles
Essec Business School, France
Sébastien Mena
Cass Business School, City University London, UK
Luc Brès
Laval University, Canada

Call for Papers

Despite popular belief, the rise and spread of neoliberalism in the 1980s did not trigger massive deregulation. Instead, it was associated with an inflation of regulations, regulatory bodies and compliance actors, constituting a whole new governance system, often with transnational scope and reach. This evolution can be captured through the notion of 'regulatory capitalism' (Levi-Faur, 2005) and it implies profound changes in regulatory dynamics worldwide. Once developed mostly by states in a 'command and control' fashion through sovereign or multilateral processes, regulations today reflect the polycentric and diffuse nature of power in the modern world economy. Contemporary regulatory processes take place in multi-actor platforms, where business, public, and civil-society actors engage in the development, implementation and enforcement of regulations – ultimately leading to the partial privatization and associated commodification of global regulation (Djelic, 2006).

This sub-theme aims at exploring the consequences of partial privatization and commodification upon regulatory journeys that we break up in four main moments: inception, diffusion, adoption, and effectuation. We elicit studies, from all management-related disciplines, that propose to explore regulatory journeys with a specific focus on the dynamics induced by their hybridity and transnational nature.


Possible questions include, but are not limited to:


Inception: Rule-making is often externalized by nation-states to new arenas of actors (Mena & Palazzo, 2012).

  • How does this externalization complement, outperform, replace, or corrupt more traditional forms of regulatory processes and regulation?

Diffusion: Multi-actor regulatory dynamics proliferate and generate a 'market' for regulation (Turcotte et al., 2014).

  • How does proliferation impact the diffusion of regulations? Their legitimacy for various stakeholders? Their integrity? And their overall effectiveness?

Adoption: Multi-actor regulatory dynamics come with the densification of an industry of 'intermediaries' (Levi-Faur & Starobin, 2014; Brès & Gond, 2014).

  • How are the meaning and impact of monitoring and compliance negotiated, constructed, and enacted in the context of multi-actor regulatory platforms and associated intermediary industries?

Effectuation: Ideally, regulation should help prevent or solve conflicts in an efficient and just manner.

  • Are contemporary regulatory dynamics bringing along more efficiency? Do they also generate justice, and do they do so in a legitimate way?






  • Brès, L., & Gond, J.-P. (2014): "The visible hand of consultants in the construction of the markets for virtue: Translating issues, negotiating boundaries and enacting responsive regulations." Human Relations, 67 (11), 1347–1382.
  • Djelic, M.-L. (2006): "Marketization: From Intellectual Agenda to Global Policy-Making." In: M.-L. Djelic & K. Sahlin-Andersson (eds.): Transnational Governance: Institutional Dynamics of Regulation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 53–73.
  • Levi-Faur, D. (2005): "The Global Diffusion of Regulatory Capitalism." The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 598 (1), 12–32.
  • Levi-Faur, D., & Starobin, S.M. (2014): Transnational Politics and Policy: From Two-Way to Three-Way Interactions. Jerusalem Papers in Regulation and Governance, Working Paper No. 62, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • Mena, S., & Palazzo, G. (2012): "Input and Output Legitimacy of Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives." Business Ethics Quarterly, 22 (3), 527–556.
  • Turcotte, M.-F., Reinecke, J., & den Hond, F. (2014): "Explaining variation in the multiplicity of private social and environmental regulation: a multi-case integration across the coffee, forestry and textile sectors." Business and Politics, 16 (1), 151–189.


Marie-Laure Salles is Professor in the Management Department at ESSEC Business School, France. Her research interests range from the role of professions and social networks in the transnational diffusion of rules and practices to the historical transformation of capitalism and national institutions. She is the author of "Exporting the American Model" (Oxford University Press, 1998), which obtained the 2000 Max Weber Award for the Best Book in Organizational Sociology from the American Sociological Association.
Sébastien Mena is a Lecturer in Management at Cass Business School, City University London, UK. His research interests lie in institutional change and stability in the interactions between business and society in the areas of sustainability and corporate responsibility, and especially with regard to transnational private regulation.
Luc Brès is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Business Administration at Laval University (Canada) and an associate researcher at Paris Dauphine (France). He is interested in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) standards, tools and markets' dynamics. His research sheds light on the interrelated socio-political dynamics at play in CSR tools' construction and diffusion.