Melbourne Law School - Research Publications

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    From responsive regulation to ecological compliance: meta-regulation and the existential challenge of corporate compliance
    Parker, C ; van Rooij, B ; SOKOL, DD (Cambridge University Press, 2021)
    This chapter revisits the significance of responsive regulation for theories of compliance. It shows how responsive regulation’s theory of compliance recognises both multiple motivations for compliance and plural actors who help negotiate and construct compliance. It argues that responsive regulation theory implies responsive compliance and that this can help build possibilities for deliberative democratic responsibility and accountability of both businesses and regulators. This is the idea that Parker previously labelled the meta-regulation of the “open corporation”. This chapter concludes that since business activity, and indeed human development, now face the existential challenge of socio ecological disruption and collapse in which profit oriented commercial activity is a significant driver, theories of compliance need to expand to concern themselves with how whole markets and industries can be made responsive to both social and ecological embeddedness. Regulatory compliance scholars need to pay attention to how networks of interacting business, government and civil society and social movement actors can influence business activity profoundly enough to shift the very nature of “business as usual”. The chapter therefore proposes the need for “ecological compliance” as a development of Ayres and Braithwaite’s analysis of compliance.
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    Introduction
    Park, C-M ; Uslaner, EM ; Park, CM ; Uslaner, EM (ROUTLEDGE, 2020-01-01)
    BACKGROUND: One important way to transform food systems for human and planetary health would be to reduce the production and consumption of animals for food. The over-production and over-consumption of meat and dairy products is resource-intensive, energy-dense and creates public health and food equity risks, including the creation of superbugs and antimicrobial resistance, contamination and pollution of land and waterways, and injustice to animals and humans who work in the sector. Yet the continuing and expanding use of animals is entrenched in food systems. One policy response frequently suggested by parties from all sectors (industry, government and civil society) is voluntary or mandatory labelling reforms to educate consumers about the healthiness and sustainability of food products, and thus reduce demand. This paper evaluates the pitfalls and potentials of labelling as an incremental regulatory governance stepping-stone to transformative food system change. METHODS: We use empirical data from a study of the regulatory politics of animal welfare and environmental claims on Australian products together with an ecological regulation conceptual approach to critically evaluate the potential of labelling as a regulatory mechanism. RESULTS: We show that labelling is generally ineffective as a pathway to transformative food system change for three reasons: it does not do enough to redistribute power away from dominant actors to those harmed by the food system; it is vulnerable to greenwashing and reductionism; and it leads to market segmentation rather than collective political action. CONCLUSION: We suggest the need for regulatory governance that is ecological by design. Labelling can only be effective when connected to a broader suite of measures to reduce overall production and consumption of meat. We conclude with some recommendations as to how public health advocates and policy entrepreneurs might strategically use and contest labelling and certification schemes to build support for transformative food system change and to avoid the regressive consequences of labelling.