Abstract

When addressing complex societal problems, public regulation is increasingly complemented by private regulation. Extant literature has provided valuable insights into the effectiveness of such complex governance structures, with most empirical studies focusing on how public regulation influences private regulation. Conversely, the impact of private on public regulation is less well studied. Here, we investigate this impact with a focus on technological change as possible mechanism. Based on a case study of energy efficiency in buildings in Switzerland, we find evidence of a symbiotic interaction between public and private regulation that leads to ratcheting‐up of regulatory stringency. We identify technological change as the mechanism linking private and public regulation. We discuss the relevance of our findings for governance literature and regulators.

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