Unpacking the complexity of environmental regulatory governance in a globalizing world: a critical review for research agenda setting

Wing Hung Carlos Lo, Ning Liu, Xue Pang, Hon Ying Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


There has been growing complexity in the study of environmental regulatory governance. In terms of regulatory approaches, the focus of national styles has gradually shifted to the local level, down to street-level regulators. As for compliance strategies, regulated entities, particularly enterprises, have moved their strategies from the evasion-compliance dichotomy to more progressive ones that are beyond compliance. As environmental watchdogs on behalf of civil society, ENGOs, particularly those in developing and non-democratic political settings, have increasingly found more space for strategizing their active efforts to monitor enforcement agencies and polluting enterprises in the regulatory process. The spilling of regulatory regimes into developing countries has led to an urgent need for regulatory studies in such nations, with a call for new theoretical formulations that are capable of explaining regulatory governance in those countries. Research methodologies adopted have become increasingly sophisticated, moving from using a single method to using mixed methods by integrating qualitative and quantitative ones, with longitudinal studies and panel data analysis as the recent trends. This study aspires to perform a critical review of the existing body of literature on environmental regulatory governance in these major aspects as the basis for a research agenda setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)594-607
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

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