Translated Titles

An Analysis of the Agency Problem When the Government Privatizes Its Regulatory Functions: A Study of the Privatization of Organic Certification




洪美仁(Mei-jen Hung);藍景彥(Ching-yen Lan)

Key Words

有機驗證 ; 管制性政策 ; 民營化 ; 代理人問題 ; Organic Certification ; Regulatory Policy ; Privatization ; Agency Problem



Volume or Term/Year and Month of Publication

74期(2017 / 12 / 01)

Page #

111 - 148

Content Language


Chinese Abstract


English Abstract

Faced with increasing fiscal stress and complex social and economic problems, the government tends to work together with private entities in many areas to plan and implement major policies. Privatization, which refers to the transfer of government functions to the private sector, has been a popular approach taken since the 1990s. Most research on privatization focuses on the privatization of government assets and corporations, or of government services that are given to citizens. There is only a small amount of research that looks at what happens when the government privatizes its regulatory functions. This paper analyzes the agency problems that occured when the government transferred its responsibility for certifying organic products to private certification bodies. Interviews with government officials, managers in private certification bodies, and academic experts were conducted. Based on the current literature of principal-agent theory and outsourcing regulations, this paper builds a framework to evaluate the agency problem from two different aspects. On one side, the agency problem is thought to be related to the professional capability and independence of the private certification bodies, as well as the effect that reputation has in the market. On the other side, the design and performance measures taken by the government and their capability to monitor private certification bodies could be critical to the reduction of agency problems. Analysis of the interviews shows that there are variations between the different levels of independence and professional capability of the certification bodies, and that a lack of independence and professional capability may lead to agency problems. Moreover, the effect that reputation has in the market is not significant. It also proves difficult to dismiss low-quality certification bodies. The current regulations that use outcome-based measures to evaluate the performance of private certification bodies are not adequate for addressing agency problems. The government relies on another accreditation body in order to monitor private certification bodies, which may introduce additional agency problems. The government should think seriously about how to strengthen its oversight of both types of external bodies involved in organic certification.

Topic Category 社會科學 > 政治學
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