Delegation and varieties of capitalism: Explaining the independence of national competition agencies in the European Union

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Series Details Vol.12, No.3, May 2014 p343–365
Publication Date May 2014
ISSN 1472-4790
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This article aims to explain why, despite the fact that all national competition authorities (NCAs) in EU member states enforce the same law, relevant differences exist in the degree of independence that these agencies enjoy. The author advances an original theoretical framework according to which the decision on the independence of NCAs depends on the structure of the economic system of a country. In particular, it is hypothesized that the means by which firms operate in the national market affects the tendency of national legislators to delegate more or less independence to the NCA. The statistical analysis carried out shows that both countries with low and high levels of employer density tend to have less independent competition authorities than those of other countries. On the one hand, the findings support the argument, advanced by varieties-of-capitalism scholars, that liberal market economies and coordinated market economies achieve greater efficiency than mixed market economies. On the other, the expectation that all institutional choices should be coherent with the firms’ coordination method is not confirmed.

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