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Yeh, "Business political influence on agency regulatory decision making: The efficacy of corporate political activity in Taiwan's CATV license awarding," 2005

USC Dissertation in Taiwan.
August 24, 2009

I-Jan Yeh, Ph.D.

Abstract (Summary)
The main purpose of this dissertation is to examine the efficacy of corporate political influence on the regulatory decision-making of Government Information Office (GIO) regarding cable television (CATV) licensing process, and its implications for the business & government relations in post-democratization Taiwan. Although this research is not unique in suggesting the efficacy of certain political strategies and tactics, this is the first empirical study of the responsiveness of a Taiwanese regulatory agency to business influence.

In this paper, I pursue two lines of inquiry: (1) Why does certain regulation take the form that it takes, or specifically, why are license awarded rather than allocated by bidding in regulating Taiwan's cable TV industry? (2) What determines the political success of individual cable operator? Is it the effectiveness of individual cable operators' political activities, structural attributes, nonprice concession, or networking capability that determines the likelihood of being granted license?

In answering the first question, I provide an interpretive account of historical and institutional conditions under which cable television is regulated and the license awarding scheme adopted. I interpret the reasons based on the "initial hardwiring" behavior of government and contend that the seemingly inefficient practices of awarding license administratively are revealed on closer scrutiny to be quite creditable attempts to cope with difficult political transactions.

With respect to the second question, I conclude that actions taken by regulated firms in political arenas can shape the outcomes of regulatory decision and the efficacy of cable firm's political influence varies among different sources of influences. The most significant determinant of political influence is network affiliation. Such finding is consistent with the power elite theory and "industry job incentive hypotheses." In exploring the implications of business influence in regulatory settings for alternative hypotheses regarding agency behavior, the empirical evidences suggest that the congressional dominance theory, the agency autonomy theory, and external-signals theory are shown to have predicative power at GIO's licensing decision.

Advisor: Graddy, Elizabeth