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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research (ISBER) is UCSB's Organized Research Unit for the social sciences and, to a lesser extent, the humanities and other divisions of the university. With over 130 principal investigators and 14 Research Centers, ISBER provides help with conceptualizing, funding funding for, and administering projects.

ISBER's Centers are: the Center for the Advanced Study of Individual Differences, Communication and Social Policy, East Asia, Evolutionary Psychology, Global Studies, Health Data Research, Information Technology and Society, MesoAmerican Research, Middle East Studies, Police Practices and Community, Sexual Minorities in the Military, Spatially Integrated Social Science, the Study of Religion, and Social Science Survey Center (and Benton Survey Research Laboratory).

Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research

There are 65 publications in this collection, published between 2000 and 2012.
ISBER Publications (13)


This paper extends transaction costs economics to analyze relationships between firms and regulatory agencies. It compares the economic efficiency of firm-agency governance structures for dealing with pollution reduction. The transaction costs of three ideal type governance structures are analyzed: command and control regulation, market based mechanisms, and negotiated agreements. We propose that the choice of governance structure will depend on the strategies firms are pursuing given their transaction attributes and market opportunities.

Information Disclosure Policies: Evidence from the Electricity Industry

A "third wave" of environmental policy has recently emerged that emphasizes information provision as an integral part of the risk mitigation strategy. While theory suggests that information programs may correct market failures and improve welfare, the empirical effectiveness of these programs remains largely undetermined. We show that mandatory information disclosure programs in the electricity industry achieve stated policy goals. We find that the average proportion of fossil fuels decreases and the average proportion of clean fuels increases in response to disclosure programs. However, the programs also produce unintended consequences. Customer composition and pre-existing fuel mix significantly affect program response, suggesting that effective information disclosure policies may not be efficient.


This paper is an empirical assessment of the comparative efficiency of governance structures in an environment marked by high uncertainty. We analyze the short-term impact of retail deregulation on the productive efficiency of electric utilities in the United States. We argue that there are transitory costs linked to the process of deregulation. The business strategy literature suggests different governance structures to cope with uncertainty linked to changing regulatory environments. Transaction cost economics suggests that firms may reduce their exposure to the uncertainty created by the process of deregulation by adopting vertical integration strategies. Organizational scholars on the contrary argue that firms vertically disintegrate and adopt flexible governance structures to increase their adaptability to the new conditions. Our empirical analysis is based on 177 investor-owned electric utilities representing 83% of the total U.S. electricity production by utilities from 1998-2001. Our results show that the process of deregulation has a negative impact on firms’ productive efficiency measured using Data Envelopment Analysis. However, firms that are vertically integrated into electricity generation or that rely on the market for the supply of their electricity are more efficient than firms that adopt hybrid structures combining vertical integration and contracting.

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