Meta-Regulation and Self-Regulation

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



The conventional view of regulation emphasises two opposing conditions: freedom and control. Government can either leave businesses with complete discretion to act according to their own interests, or it can impose regulations taking that discretion away by threatening sanctions aimed at bringing firms' interests into alignment with those of society, as a whole. This article focuses specifically on two alternatives to traditional, so-called command-and-control regulation: namely, meta-regulation and self-regulation. It defines these alternatives and situates their use in an overall regulatory governance toolkit. Drawing on the existing body of social science research on regulatory alternatives, this article identifies some of the strengths and weaknesses of both meta-regulation and self-regulation, and considers how these strengths and weaknesses are affected by different policy conditions.


freedom, control, command-and-control regulation, meta-regulation, self-regulation

Publication Title

The Oxford Handbook of Regulation