Accountability and regulatory governance in a cross-jurisdictional market
: A case study of the all-island energy market (Ireland)

  • Tanya Harrington

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctorate in Governance


Regulatory accountability is central to democratic governance. As regulatory institutions and their associated governance arrangements have become more complex, and decision-making ever more distant from the citizen, it is imperative that such institutions and the actors within them are accountable for their actions. This research explores, through the lens of historical institutionalism, the issue of regulatory accountability in the case of the cross-jurisdictional energy market on the island of Ireland which has evolved to implement European and domestic energy policy goals. The research considers the issue of institutional design, persistence and change with a specific focus on accountability within the existing governance framework of the all-island energy market. After mapping and assessing regulatory accountability, the research considers how the issue of accountability should be addressed in terms of institutional design for regulatory governance in a cross jurisdictional market. Drawing on extensive document analysis and twenty-two in depth semi-structured interviews with key decision-makers, this research demonstrates, firstly, that the institutional form of non-majoritarian institutions needs to be aligned; that is, that the nature of the institution as a decision-making authority and as a legal entity must be fully coupled. Secondly, there is a need to embed accountability mechanisms (in all three directions: upwards, horizontally and downwards) into the institutional design. This is particularly important as regulatory institutions evolve from being state-centred non-majoritarian institutions into cross-jurisdictional, even regional, institutions for regulatory governance, operating in a decentred, multi-level governance context such as the European Union. Thirdly, the accountability mechanisms need to be periodically assessed and adjusted over time the institution evolves. This serves to strengthen the institution's formal and informal accountability arrangements. The research concludes that adopting an institutional perspective provides a useful lens for considering the best means of securing adequate levels of accountability in regulatory institutions, particularly when these operate in a cross -jurisdictional, multi-level governance context.
Date of AwardJul 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorDieter Pesendorfer (Supervisor) & Peter Doran (Supervisor)

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