on 26 September 2001
Understanding Regulation was written as a course text for the MSc in Regulation at the London School of Economics. The majority of the book is written by Rob Baldwin, currently the MSc Regulation Programme Director with Martin Cave contributing towards the more 'economistic' chapters of the book. I have had no hesitation in using Understanding Regulation in my teaching, previously at the University of the West Indies, now at the London School of Economics.
The main strength of Understanding Regulation is its general comprehensiveness. This is suitable reading for someone who is not yet familiar with the literature on regulation. Baldwin and Cave have done well to achieve such a high level of discussion, while still managing to keep things simple enough for students and people new to the field. Exhaustive footnotes provide an excellent resource for those who wish to delve further. For this reason, Understanding Regulation is often the first text I pick up when I am working on some area of regulation on which I am rusty.
One minor criticism of Understanding Regulation is its UK centred approach. While only one chapter, Chapter 14 on British Utilities Regulation, goes into the details of regulation in the UK in any depth, the underlying assumptions are often UK-specific.
This is only a minor issue. It might easily have been remedied in two ways: First, a chapter dealing with regulation and national political administrative traditions would have been appropriate, especially given the recent literature that emphasises regulatory culture; Second, I would like to have seen a chapter on regulation in developing countries. There has been some interesting discussion in the professional literature on regulatory regimes as instruments of social and economic development, of which the best is still perhaps Levy & Spiller's book, Regulations, Institutions and Commitment (Cambridge University Press, 1996). This growing area deserves some consideration.
These minor quibbles notwithstanding, I have no hesitation in saying that Understanding Regulation is essential reading.
on 4 February 2014
After I borrowed the first edition from the library, I decided to bought the second edition immediately. It is an excellent book for young researchers who are willing to know something about regulation. Introduction of each topic includes abundant cut-edging discussions, which helps me to grasp the whole picture as well as to get a long list of useful literature.