Litigating Within Relationships: Disputes and Disturbance in the Regulatory Process

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This article reports data that contrast with an extended tradition of viewing litigation as incompatible with ongoing relationships. Within the regulatory process at the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nongovernmental actors having the most sustained relationships with EPA are the ones most likely to engage in litigation against the agency. Litigation within regulatory relationships is not explained by existing theory, which treats litigation largely as a function of relationships. A disturbance theory of disputing, which focuses on how litigation interacts with existing relationships, provides a more robust account of litigation generally and of its compatibility with ongoing regulatory relationships.

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Law & Society Review