53 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2018 Last revised: 10 Feb 2019
Date Written: November 24, 2018
Should the government engage in public shaming? This article is the first to define and explore an intriguing practice — “regulatory shaming.” Regulatory shaming refers to the publication of negative information by administrative agencies concerning private regulated bodies, mostly corporations, in order to further public-interest goals. For instance, regulatory agencies such as OSHA send out condemning press releases and use social media to publish workplace safety violations with the names of responsible companies, while the SEC and the FDA shame companies for high internal pay gaps and for blocking competition in the pharma industry. The Health Department rates nursing homes on a one to five star scale, and the EPA assigns color ratings to factories according to level of compliance with environmental regulation.
The practice of regulatory shaming is at a crossroads. While some agencies are adopting shaming strategies, others do not; some are even rolling them back. In light of these contradictory trends, it is time to seriously explore shaming by administrative agencies from a normative perspective. The article argues that shaming can be a legitimate, efficient, and democratic regulatory approach, and suggests general considerations for utilizing shaming tactics.
Keywords: regulation, shaming, administrative agencies, administrative law, corporations, FDA, OSHA, SEC
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