Regulating the Revolving Door of Regulators: Legal vs. Ethical Issues

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This paper analyzes the effects of the revolving door, concentrating not only on the dynamics between regulators and firms but also on whether regulating the revolving door is optimal from the point of view of society. The study explores the trade-off between two interconnected aspects related to the revolving door: the ‘lack of competence’ and ‘greed’ of regulators. On the one hand, the revolving door facilitates the recruitment of highly qualified regulators by the government, drawn by the prospect of lucrative future compensation packages. On the other hand, it allows regulators to succumb to greed, enabling them to receive revenues after their term in office. This paper emphasizes that this propensity toward greed can manifest through two distinct channels: ‘regulatory capture’, which is illegal, and ‘abuse of power’, which, while legal, is unethical. This paper highlights that distinguishing whether the behavior of the regulator is either unlawful or unethical is of utmost importance for analyzing the optimal policy concerning regulators. On one end, the capture models advocate for regulated oversight of the revolving door to prevent corruption. On the other end, models of abuse of power, characterized by regulators generating ‘bureaucratic capital’, contribute to the acceptance of the revolving door practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

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  • bureaucratic capital
  • compensation package
  • corruption
  • ethics
  • legal system
  • revolving door
  • social norms


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