Posts by Bronwyn Howell

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Research Papers

Economic analysis takes as its defining performance benchmark the pursuit of increases in welfare (efficiency). Competition is merely one of a variety of means of achieving the efficiency end, especially in industries where the underlying economic circumstances predispose them towards greatest efficiency when competition (in the form of many market participants) is restricted. Typically, regulatory intervention in these industries is justified by the imperative to increase efficiency. Competition law and industry-specific regulation provide two competing means of intervention whereby the pursuit of efficiency can be enhanced. The challenge is in determining how to allocate responsibility for governance of industry interaction between these two institutional forms. Whilst competition law can govern interaction in most industries, where the underlying economic conditions are sufficiently different, industry-specific regulation offers advantages. However, its weakness is the risk of capture, leading to the subjugation of the efficiency end to the pursuit of other objectives (e.g. competition – the means – as an end in itself). But if the regulatory institution could be bound in some way to pursue an efficiency objective, could the risk of capture be averted?

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