Regulatory Agencies and Courts in the South: The Overlaps in Colombian Water Regulation

Julián Daniel López-Murcia


How can we explain the emergence and evolvement of the overlaps between the Colombian Water and Sanitation Regulatory Commission (CRA) and the Constitutional Court? This paper shows the dominant literature’s limitations in explaining these overlaps. By contrast, I argue that the “regulatory enterprise” approach developed by Tony Prosser (2010) and the theory of “institutional isomorphism” explained by DiMaggio and Powell (1991) are better equipped to offer plausible explanations. Moreover, I hypothesize that the lack of understanding regarding the differences between the role of a regulatory agency in developed countries and the role of a regulatory agency in Colombia is critical in these overlaps. The specific conditions that determine these differences are a precarious legislature, a “thick” constitution that includes several social rights, and an activist judicial enforcement of these rights. This qualitative research does not allow for generalizable conclusions. However, the intention of this study is to provide insights into the role and specific challenges for a regulatory agency in developing countries. Furthermore, this case study seeks to demonstrate that regulation researchers must focus on the political context to develop tools appropriate for evaluating regulatory agencies outside the developed world.

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