Our research projects

The study of policy diffusion has experienced a rapid and intense development in the field of political and social sciences. The GlobalReg Research Group examines the global spread of regulation, with a special focus on regulatory agencies, both across countries and across sectors, on the one hand, and on the policy and political challenges involved in the regulatory state model, on the other.


AccountReg (The Political Economy of Regulatory Agencies: Accountability, Transparency and Effectiveness) (2013-2016)

The rise and diffusion of regulatory agencies during the 1990s has enthroned a particular institutional model of state bureaucracy: the regulatory state. Regulatory agencies were thus established in an attempt to promote autonomy, independence, and expertise as fundamental elements to the improvement of policy outcomes and economic efficiency. While democratic legitimacy has been traditionally entwined with accountability, the complex patterns of regulatory governance today make it increasingly difficult to determine who is responsible for and how to hold them accountable. Accountability has thus become a far-reaching concern for regulatory agencies.

AccountReg will empirically analyze the potential of regulatory agencies for political accountability. Taking accountability as a social relation between the agency and its forum, which includes an heterogeneous array of actors and organizations, the study aims to fulfill the following objectives: 1) To map and assess the transparency and access to information mechanisms of regulatory agencies in a comparative perspective, both in sectoral and national terms; 2) To assess the relations of cooperation and conflict between politicians, public servants, professionals, businessmen, and other stakeholders in the context of regulatory governance; 3) To better understand the policy communities around regulatory agencies, with a particular focus on their forum, their argumentation, and dialogue and justification dynamics; 4) To identify which accountability mechanisms are relevant for the effectiveness of regulatory agencies, as they foster a learning process within both the agency and the broader community.

Based on a mixed-method approach, AccountReg includes the elaboration of an online survey administered to specific individuals assigned to concrete actors and organizations in the forum of particular regulatory agencies, and personal and semi-structured interviews. The analysis will focus on three sectors - Pharmaceuticals, Stock Exchange and Telecommunications – in four countries: Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom and Turkey.

Funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, Grant CSO2012- 39693


The Spread of Regulatory Institutions. Sectorial Networks and National Hierarchies in a Global World (2009-2012)

This project has documented and analyzed the process of diffusion of regulatory agencies across countries and sectors, while at the same time identifying varieties of regulatory agencies. To this end, the GlobalReg Research Group has developed a database on the institutional characteristics of regulatory agencies in 16 sectors and 119 countries, which includes various variables related to the organizational characteristics of agencies, on the one hand, and to the formal policy making process, on the other.

Building on the development of this new and innovative database, the project aimed to deepen our understanding of the process of institutional transfer and design in the context of the globalization of regulatory capitalism. The statistical analysis enabled us to identify time trends and to differentiate spatial dimensions or channels of diffusion, while capturing similarities and differences across regulatory agencies, and how they adapt to various political and economic contexts. One of the main insights of this research is that there are multiple paths of institutional adaptation mixed with processes of learning and emulation. This quantitative approach was complemented by four case studies focusing on the international dimension of agencies, the relations and links they establish, and the exchange of information among professional networks of regulators. These detailed case studies unraveled the political processes and policy dynamics underlying institutional adaptations and organizational adjustments after the creation of regulatory agencies.

Funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, Grant CSO2009-11053