A Strategic Approach to Labor Inspection

56 Pages Posted: 9 May 2008 Last revised: 27 Mar 2012

See all articles by David Weil

David Weil

Brandeis University Heller School of Social Policy and Management; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: May 1, 2008


The challenges facing workplace regulators are daunting: Workplace agencies in developing and developed countries alike face severe resource constraints. Changes in the workplace, from the growth of the informal sector and the fissuring of the traditional employment relationship to the decline of labor unions and emergence of new forms of workplace risk make the task facing labor inspectors far more complicated. This complex workplace environment cannot be addressed by simple calls for more resources or better training. Instead, I discuss four major principles - prioritization, deterrence, sustainability, and systemic effects - that labor inspectorates need to integrate into framing enforcement policies as part of a strategic approach to the complex regulatory environment. I then apply these criteria to evaluating interventions in the primary domains of enforcement: responding to worker complaints and conducting programmatic investigations.

Keywords: enforcement, workplace policy, regulation, labor policy

JEL Classification: J38, J28, J58, K31, L51

Suggested Citation

Weil, David, A Strategic Approach to Labor Inspection (May 1, 2008). Boston U. School of Management Research Paper No. 2009-4, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1131386 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1131386

David Weil (Contact Author)

Brandeis University Heller School of Social Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 549110/MS 035
415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02454
United States

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-8474 (Phone)
617-496-1722 (Fax)

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