January 1, 2001
Center for Business and Government, John F. Kennedy School of Government
The author suggests that the choice between rules and standards, the choice between specific and vague directives, may not make nearly as much of a difference as is ordinarily assumed. There may also be reason to believe that the adaptive behavior of decision-makers will push rules towards standards, and push standards towards rules.
This phenomenon, which the author calls convergence, provides the focus of the paper. The author also suggests that much that was previously thought about the distinction between rules and standards, and much that we have previously thought about the potential for choosing between them to serve regulatory or adjudicative goals, will need to be rethought.
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