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Regulation as Industrial Policy: A Case Study of the U.S. Auto Industry


  • Rob Atkinson

    (University of North Carolina)

  • Les Garner

    (Wesleyan College)


Government regulation to protect health, safety, and the environment has for the past several years been indicted for the additional costs it has imposed on industry. Studies have documented that regulation can dramatically change the costs of production and alter the competitive structure within an industry. A close look at the U.S. automobile industry suggests that there may be other impacts of social regulation. In contrast to the conventional wisdom concerning the impact of regulation on the industry, this study finds that environmental regulation has had a distinctly positive impact on the auto industry. It has encouraged adaptation of existing strategies to the new reality of global competition. For a variety of reasons, it is not obvious that, without regulation, the industry would have adapted as quickly to its changing market. The article presents a theoretical framework to explain this impact and suggests how public policies intended to affect corporate strategy might be evaluated.

Suggested Citation

  • Rob Atkinson & Les Garner, 1987. "Regulation as Industrial Policy: A Case Study of the U.S. Auto Industry," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 1(4), pages 358-373, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ecdequ:v:1:y:1987:i:4:p:358-373
    DOI: 10.1177/089124248700100406

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    Cited by:

    1. S. Ignat'ev V. & С. Игнатьев В., 2018. "Оценка И Выбор Форм Государственного Регулирования Интенсификации Экономического Роста // Evaluation And Choice Of Forms Of State Regulation Of Intensification Of Economic Growth," Финансы: теория и практика/Finance: Theory and Practice // Finance: Theory and Practice, ФГОБУВО Финансовый университет при Правительстве Российской Федерации // Financial University under The Government of Russian Federation, vol. 22(1), pages 22-31.

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