July 1, 2001
Center for Business and Government, John F. Kennedy School of Government
This paper focuses on a governance strategy that seeks directly to promote the management of private firms in ways that meet public goals. One might say that all regulatory strategies purport to encourage private firms to manage their affairs in ways that reduce social harms. Yet management-based regulatory strategies are distinctive in that they specifically require regulated firms to do their own planning and decision-making about how to achieve socially-desirable goals. Traditionally, government authorities have adopted regulatory standards that either (1) command firms to use specified technologies or processes that governmental decision makers believe will achieve social goals ("technology-based regulation"), or (2) command firms to achieve specified levels of socially-desirable outputs or performance but give them flexibility in deciding what technologies or processes to use to achieve that performance ("performance-based regulation"). In contrast, what the authors refer to as management-based regulation commands firms to engage in the planning and decision-making needed to identify both technologies and performance targets needed to achieve socially-desired goals. This management-based approach to governance is currently being pursued or considered for application in the areas of food safety, occupational health, environmental protection, and other regulatory areas
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