Colin Provost

University College London
School of Public Policy/Department of Political Science

University College London, School of Public Policy
29/30 Tavistock Square
United Kingdom
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My primary research interest is in exploring the interaction of law and politics, particularly as demonstrated by the behavior of U.S. state attorneys general. My research explores how and why state AGs work with each other, particularly in the areas of consumer protection and antitrust. Additionally, I am interested in financial regulation in the United States, particularly how state and federal regulators interact with each other, and the extent to which this creates regulatory competition. Finally, I also do research on environmental regulation, particularly on the enforcement behavior of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Provost, Colin. Forthcoming. "Competition and Coordination in Bank Regulation: The Financial Crisis of 2007-09." International Journal of Public Administration
Capelos, Tereza, Colin Provost, Maria Parouti, Julie Barnett, Jonathan Chenowith, Chris Fife-Schaw and Tanika Kelay. Forthcoming. "Ingredients of Institutional Reputations and Citizen Engagement with Regulators." Regulation and Governance
Gleason, Shane and Colin Provost. Forthcoming. "Representing the States before the U.S. Supreme Court: State Amicus Participation, the Policy Making Environment and the Fourth Amendment." Publius: the Journal of Federalism
Provost, Colin. 2014. "Antitrust Law and Distributive Politics in the American States," Law and Policy, 36 (October): 408-431.
Abstract: State enforcement by state attorneys general (AGs) has become a major component of American antitrust law. Much has been written about state antitrust enforcement, but existing accounts of AG incentives and behavior are incomplete. As elected officials in forty-three states, AGs must represent their constituents and therefore, will be drawn to cases that maximize the level of settlement reward— cases with large, wealthy defendants. I hypothesize and find that state AGs represent their constituents along ideological lines, but this relationship is conditioned by case characteristics that involve the potential settlement reward. More-over, incentives to participate are likely to be higher when there are clear violations of the law, as in price-fixing cases, rather than in merger cases, where no wrongdoing has necessarily been established. The study adds to our under-standing of antitrust law but also has implications for how distributive politics shapes political responsiveness to the electorate.
Provost, Colin. 2011. "When to Befriend the Court? Examining State Amici Curiae Participation Before the U.S. Supreme Court." State Politics and Policy Quarterly 11 (March): 4-27.
Abstract: Over the past 30 years, the U.S. states have increased their participation as amici curiae significantly, in addition to winning more of their cases as direct parties. However, little attention has been paid to the factors that cause amici participation rates to vary among the states. I examine the decision of state attorneys general (AGs) to initiate or join amicus curiae briefs in all 253 U.S. Supreme Court criminal procedure cases from 1990 through 2001. I hypothesize that AGs are motivated largely by their own policy preferences and by their motivation to get reelected. Because amicus briefs are not particularly high-profile policy tools, reelection motivations ought to be demonstrated through responsiveness to elites in state government. The findings provide less support for this idea, and more support for the idea that state AGs follow their own policy preferences through amicus participation.
Provost, Colin. 2010. "An Integrated Model of U.S. State Attorney General Behavior in Multi-State Litigation." State Politics and Policy Quarterly 10 (1): 1-24.
Abstract: Multi-state lawsuits, filed by U.S. state attorneys general (AGs), have become an important method by which state consumer protection laws are enforced. Patterns of participation in these lawsuits vary tremendously across the states, yet little is known about the factors driving this variation. I argue that state AGs are primarily concerned with achieving electoral and policy making goals. Consequently, I expect AGs to be responsive to strong consumer interests and to participate in cases with severe infractions. Additionally, whether it is for public interest or electoral goals, AGs should be attracted to cases that promise bigger settlements. My analysis of each state?s decision to join each of 172 multi-state lawsuits filed and settled between 1989 and 2002 provides support for each of these hypotheses.
Gieve, Sir John, and Colin Provost. Forthcoming 2012. “Ideas and Coordination in Policy Making.” Governance.
Abstract: Policy change occurs because coalitions of actors are able to take advantage of political conditions to translate their strong beliefs about policy into ideas, which are turned into policy. A coalition?s ability to define a problem helps to keep policies in place, but it can also cause coalitions to develop blindspots. For example, policy subsystem actors will often neglect the need for coordination between governmental actors. We examine the financial crisis of 2007-09 to show how entrenched policy ideas can cause subsystem actors to overlook the need for policy coordination. We first analyze the prevalent idea that policy makers should aim to keep inflation low and stable while employing light touch regulation to financial markets. We then demonstrate how this philosophy led to a lack of coordination between monetary and regulatory policy in the subprime mortgage market. We conclude with thoughts about the need for coordination in future economic policy.

Substantive Focus:
Law and Policy PRIMARY
Economic Policy SECONDARY
Environmental Policy

Theoretical Focus:
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation PRIMARY