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Title: Ideas and power in financial regulation : the case of the British hedge fund industry 2008-2013
Author: Sennholz-Weinhardt, B. R. G.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5362 7173
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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The power of finance vis-à-vis state actors is a central concern of this thesis: I ask how ideas lead to particular power relations between hedge fund managers and their British regulator, the Financial Services Authority (now Financial Conduct Authority). Combining constructivist scholarship in International Political Economy (IPE) and socio-legal studies of financial regulation, I argue that ideas give meaning to practices, which in turn instantiate power relations and social facts. I show that ideas turn actors’ possessions into power resources; and I apply insights from IPE to the field of national, everyday regulatory practices. Based on Grounded Theory Method, this thesis uses qualitative text analysis of semi-structured interviews, field observations, policy documents and specialised media articles. Three cases show that collectively produced ideas underlie the current regime and constitute the power relations structuring it: Regarding the institutional set-up, I find that the idea of markets detecting the ‘right’ price establishes the rationale for a technocratic regulator with limited ability to assess the social value of financial market activities. With regards to rule-making, the analysis confirms that regulators and industry members co-produce the threat of industry relocation, limiting the options for tightened regulation. For the aspect of supervision, I show that firms and the regulator share the idea that compliance and supervision fundamentally rely on industry expertise and regulatory judgement, increasing mutual dependence of these actors. Overall, the analyses confirm the importance of ideas for the regulatory regime in Britain: the everyday interactions between firms and the regulator, based on particular shared ideas, instantiate an expertise-based form of regulation that allows for extensive industry influence. It is argued that this leaves little room for engagement of other stakeholders to genuinely counter problems of cultural capture, when the industry gains a disproportionate influence in the process that forms the regulators’ opinion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available