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Industry Self-Governance and National Security: On the Private Control of Dual Use Technologies


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  • von Engelhardt, Sebastian
  • Maurer, Stephen


Private sector firms frequently sell dual use products that can be used to develop either civilian goods or weapons of mass destruction. The global character of these markets makes traditional regulation and treaty solutions difficult. Some existing initiatives by manufacturers have established private regulations that are stronger than official US policy. This paper explores the economic conditions that make such strong, industry-wide agreements stable. We assume two risks due to the dual use nature. First, upstream firms face legal liability if their products lead to a disaster. Second, a disaster may produce regulatory backlash, i.e. excessive government regulation that make downstream production prohibitive costly. We find that regulatory backlash is never an adequate substitute for perfect (i.e. full) liability and even makes the situation worse. Second, industry regulation enforced by downstream firms and optimal regulation converge when the downstream firms have strong market power. Next, we analyze when and why large downstream firms are able to force their preference for high levels of regulation on upstream suppliers. Finally we show that upstream incumbents may be able to deter entry in adopting a high regulatory standard. --

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Paper provided by Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association in its series Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century with number 66052.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc12:66052

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  1. Na Li Dawson & Kathleen Segerson, 2003. "Voluntary Agreements with Industries: Participation Incentives with Industry-wide Targets," Working papers, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics 2004-06, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  2. Shiell, Alan & Chapman, Simon, 2000. "The inertia of self-regulation: a game-theoretic approach to reducing passive smoking in restaurants," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 51(7), pages 1111-1119, October.
  3. Khanna Madhu & Widyawati Diah, 2011. "Fostering Regulatory Compliance: The Role of Environmental Self-Auditing and Audit Policies," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 125-160, May.
  4. Pizer, William A. & Morgenstern, Richard & Shih, Jhih-Shyang, 2010. "Evaluating Voluntary Climate Programs in the United States," Discussion Papers, Resources For the Future dp-08-13-rev, Resources For the Future.
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