Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

59 Federal Communications Law Journal 369 (2007)


Satisfying the constraints for sustainable regulatory telecommunications policies is more challenging for regulatory regimes based on competition than monopoly. In an earlier paper, Johannes Bauer and I used complexity theory to improve our understanding of the requirements for sustainable telecommunications policies, showing that regulation has a diminishing capacity to achieve specifically desired outcomes and greater attention must be paid to the adaptability of policies and policymaking processes themselves. The present Article examines the implications of the complexity theory perspective for federalism. Federalism is a distinctive (patching) algorithm that confers system advantages for adaptability through diversity and coupling of policymaking jurisdictions-mechanisms for both experimentation and stability-that are essential for development of sustainable policies. An important implication is that policies of complete federal preemption, and particularly full deregulation, must be approached with great caution because such policies eliminate the adaptive properties of a more highly patched and coupled policymaking system.