Publication Date



Most accounts of businesses and regulators depict adversarial relationships. In these accounts, businesses typically seek to avoid or limit public regulation or, alternatively, to distort it so it serves private rather than public ends. This article uses a study of the environmental consulting industry to explore a different set of relationships between businesses and public regula- tion. These consultants generally work for for-profit companies, and they serve as regulatory intermediaries between busi- nesses and government. Those dual roles raise concerns that environmental consultants, like many other businesses, will seek to subvert regulatory schemes or will serve as instruments of regulatory capture. While some evidence supports these con- cerns, interviews and documentary research also demonstrated widespread perceptions that consultants play two other roles. First, environmental consultants strive to operate as trusted facilitators of constructive relationships between regulators and regulated entities. Second, for combined reasons of profit motive and value-based moral commitments, environmental consul- tants also strive to act as guardians and proponents of the public values underlying environmental regulation. These roles have implications for descriptive understandings of the functioning of regulatory regimes and for regulatory system design. Most importantly, in contrast to literature emphasizing the need to protect regulatory governance from private, for-profit entities, these findings illustrate how for-profit regulatory intermediaries can work to bolster regulatory governance.

Document Type


Publication Title

Regulation and Governance