The regulation of public goods

Peter Drahos*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    ABSTRACT The chapter examines the complex ways in which public goods are regulated. The provision and distribution of public goods is deeply affected by the degree of excludability of those goods and the regulatory context of that excludability. Using a decentered conception of regulation, the chapter shows through various examples how state and non-state actors regulate each other's capacities to provide, access, and distribute public goods. The chapter includes a discussion of the regulation of knowledge by the rules of intellectual property. Introduction Public goods range from those that are constituted by norms (peace, order, and good government) to those physical goods that provide a collective benefit independently of any norms (forests and algae that consume carbon are two examples). Such goods are typically defined in terms of two qualities: non-rivalry in consumption and non-excludability. Knowledge is perhaps the quintessential public good and there has long been a fundamental debate about how best to ensure its development and distribution. Adam Smith observed that goods of general benefit to a society would have to be funded by means of a general contribution. This potentially left a large range of goods to be provided through the public budgetary process. But after the recognition that most of the real economy operated in the messy world of impure public goods, attention began to focus on ways in which public goods could be provided through some form of exclusion, thereby allowing the market to play a much greater role in the provision of such goods.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationInternational Public Goods and Transfer of Technology Under a Globalized Intellectual Property Regime
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    Number of pages19
    ISBN (Electronic)9780511494529
    ISBN (Print)0521841968, 9780521841962
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005


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