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Open Access Commentary

Models of professional regulation: institutionalizing an agency relationship

Carolyn Hughes Tuohy

Author Affiliations

School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto, Toronto, CANADA

Israel Journal of Health Policy Research 2013, 2:10  doi:10.1186/2045-4015-2-10

Published: 27 March 2013


The regulation of medical practice can historically be understood as a second-level agency relationship whereby the state delegated authority to professional bodies to police the primary agency relationship between the individual physician and the patient. Borow, Levi and Glekin show how different national systems vary in the degree to which they insist on institutionally insulating the agency function from the promotion of private professional interests, and relate these variations to different models of the health care state. In fact these differences have even deeper roots in different “liberal” or “coordinated” varieties of capitalist political economies. Neither model is inherently more efficient than the other: what matters is the internal coherence or logic of these systems that conditions the expectations of actors in responding to particular challenges. The territory that Borow, Levi and Glekin have usefully mapped invites further exploration in this regard.

This is a commentary on webcite.