Cyril Benoît

I am a CNRS Researcher at the Centre for European Studies and Comparative Politics at Sciences Po in Paris. My research interests lie broadly in comparative political economy, with a focus on regulatory politics, business-government relations, and distributive politics in and through legislative institutions. 

I am the author of Réguler l’accès aux médicaments (PUG, 2020), a book derived from my dissertation. It explores the market-access regulation of pharmaceuticals in France and the UK, uncovers resulting political conflicts, and examines how domestic regulatory frameworks interact with the global industrial organization of the sector.

My ongoing research projects address the transformation of coordinated capitalism, the political control of regulatory agencies, and the political economy of legislative favouritism. As part of this latter project, I am currently building with colleagues (and making available) large-scale micro level datasets about the legislative process in various countries around the world. Click here to find out more. 

You can access a recent version of my CV here and reach me at cyril.benoit@cnrs.fr. Below, you can find summaries of some of my recent work.

PUBLICATIONS

A Tale of Dualization: Accounting for the (Partial) Marketization of Regulated Savings in France (with Elsa Massoc)

Published in Review of International Political Economy.

As in other countries, regulated savings in France are intricately woven into dense regulatory frameworks driven by explicit governmental objectives. The anticipated marketization of the French economy should have eradicated them; however, a substantial portion of regulated savings has managed to evade this process. Is this phenomenon attributable to the tenacious grip of the French state-led tradition? Not entirely, as another subset of these savings has indeed undergone marketization. The landscape of French regulated savings is notably distinguished by a growing dichotomy: on one side, non-marketized products offered by banks, and on the other, increasingly marketized products provided by insurers. Drawing upon process tracing, we contend that these ostensibly conflicting developments emanate from the distinct and precise institutional dependencies between state and private actors in which these products are enmeshed. The prevailing status quo within the banking sector is owed to banks’ engagement in a mutually advantageous, long-term exchange of favors with state actors. Faced with the trade-off between offering less lucrative products and risking the endangerment of this relationship, banks have opted for the former. In contrast, an assertive strategy has gained traction in the insurance industry. Yet, strategies for the marketization of regulated savings aligned with state priorities have been implemented, even when insurers expressed opposition.

The Regulatory Path to Healthcare systems’ financialization

Published in Journal of European Social Policy.  

The literature has often presented European healthcare systems as being less exposed to the growing dependencies on global finance observed in other areas of social policy. This article explores the sources and dynamics of a regulatory path to healthcare systems’ financialization that challenges this depiction. Building on analogies with the case of pension policy, we show that the integration of the private health insurance sector into the European Union financial regulation framework has resulted in perceptible processes of financialization. Notably this manifested in the growing role of financial firms, in non-profit health insurers’ adoption of ‘financialized’ business practices and eventually in a noticeable change of these actors’ positioning in domestic healthcare reform. After having discussed the theoretical implications, the article provides an empirical illustration of this argument by documenting the implementation of the Solvency II insurance directive by health insurers in France, and describes its more general consequences and implications beyond this case study.

Politicians, Regulators and Regulatory Governance

Published in Regulation & Governance

We offer a series of reflective insights about the state and direction of studies related to the politics of regulation. Notably we argue that the field is characterized by persisting divisions between Americanists and Europeanists. Largely focused on the actions taken by political principals, the former regularly report a substantial politicization of regulatory behavior. Reflecting on recent developments in US politics however, we show that political influence could be overestimated in the United States. Symmetrically, this same influence could be underestimated by Europeanists, who for now have largely focused on regulators and agencies. This is notably suggested by a discussion of recent developments in European politics, as revealed by contributions systematically measuring agency politicization in Western European democracies. On this basis, we identify some promising research questions and agendas for future studies on the politics of regulation.

Should I Stay (Open) or Should I Close? World Legislatures during the First Wave of Covid-19 (with Israel Waismel-Manor, Ittai Bar-Siman-Tov, Olivier Rozenberg, Asaf Levanon and Gal Ifergane)

Published in Political Studies

Covid-19 has shocked governance systems worldwide. Legislatures, in particular, have been shut down or limited due to the pandemic, yet with divergence from one country to another. In this article, we report results from a cross-sectional quantitative analysis of legislative activity during the initial reaction to this shock and identify the factors accounting for such variation. Exploring legislatures across 159 countries, we find no relation between the severity of Covid-19 and limitations on legislatures’ operation, thus suggesting that legislatures are at risk of being shut down or limited due to policy “overreaction” and that a health risk may serve as an excuse for silencing them. However, we find that legislatures in democratic countries are relatively immune to this risk, while those in frail democracies are more exposed. In partially free countries, the use of technology can mitigate this risk. We also find that the coalitional features of the government may lead to legislatures’ closing.

Legislative Direction of Regulatory Bureaucracies: Evidence from a Semi-Presidential System (with Ana-Maria Szilagyi)

Published in The Journal of Legislative Studies.

Independent regulatory agency has become the standard institutional choice in Western Europe. Little is known, however, about the involvement of legislators in their design and in their monitoring. In this paper, we analyse ex-ante and ex-post legislative involvement for 48 regulatory agencies enacted in France. We show that legislators debate and design more substantially agencies for which the government bill has already granted them more powers to appoint members to their board, or to be appointed as board members themselves. Once enacted, agencies that allow greater participation by legislators in their decision-making are subject to greater scrutiny, and this even after controlling for routine oversight activities. Regulatory domains matter, though only for ex-post legislative oversight. These results suggest that legislative involvement is selective and driven by strategic considerations. More fundamentally, they imply that legislative involvement could be more important in regulatory agency activities than usually assumed.

WORKING PAPER

Silent Regulators and Noisy Firms (with Takuya Onoda)

In the realm of policymaking, business actors often wield substantial influence, particularly in issues of low salience, where information imbalances can work to their advantage. But what happens when they face an agency with enduringly superior expertise or when a regulatory space is characterized by dual information asymmetries? In such scenarios, this paper argues that business actors are likely to attempt to raise issue salience, while regulators will struggle to maintain the realm of ‘quiet politics’, where they can strategically leverage their superior expertise. To empirically support these assertions, we investigate the pharmaceutical regulation landscapes in France, Japan, and the United Kingdom, employing a robust methodology that combines statistical evidence on the salience of various policy developments across the three countries with insights gathered from approximately 150 interviews involving key participants in the regulatory processes. Notably, our findings reveal that when agencies are shielded from business actors’ influence in closed-door settings due to their expertise, they become significantly more susceptible to political interventions under high salience conditions.