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Ambiguity and relational signals in regulator-regulatee relationships

Etienne, Julien (2013) Ambiguity and relational signals in regulator-regulatee relationships. Regulation and Governance, 7 (1). pp. 30-47. ISSN 1748-5983

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Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1748-5991.2012.01160.x


Responsive Regulation translated an ongoing academic debate about behavior orientation and regulatory enforcement into a synthetic framework. Yet ethnographic studies reveal that ambiguity pervades regulator–regulatee interactions and suggest that the reality of regulatory encounters may be too ambivalent to fit the picture of the regulatory “game” at the heart of Ayres and Braithwaite's theory. This article proposes to address this ambivalence by drawing the outline of a relational signaling approach to regulatory encounters. The regulatory game is deconstructed into several ideal types of regulator–regulatee relationships. Within each ideal type ambiguity is managed with relational signals, namely behaviors that take a specific signification depending on the nature of the relationship. A relational signaling approach can account for the varying meanings of cooperation, defection, and mutual social control across different regulator–regulatee dyads.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.
Divisions: Centre for Analysis of Risk & Regulation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2013 16:51
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2023 19:39
Funders: British Academy

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