Carter studies the different forms that contemporary regulatory policies take, and manners in which they are administered. Much of his research focuses on U.S. organic food certification and regulation under the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. This research has been conducted in coordination with organic certification practitioner communities, such as the Accredited Certifiers Association and the International Organic Inspectors Association.
Outlines the manners in which U.S. organic food regulation differs from traditional regulatory arrangements, including relying on rule-making advisory board counsel, quasi-voluntary program participation, delegated regulatory authority, and competitive regulatory administration.
Demonstrates that even though nonprofit and private certifiers rely on regulatee service fees for revenue, raising the concern that nongovernmental certification agents will lower their regulatory stringency to attract and retain regulatee 'clients,' few identifiable differences are evident in public, nonprofit, and private organic certifiers’ regulatory approaches.
Argues that public, nonprofit, and private organizations approach service provision, and may respond to competitive environments, differently, and involving nonprofit and private organizations in regulatory administration leads to the 'bundling' of peripheral services with regulatory functions.
Examines how organic inspectors negotiate and internalize the potentially conflicting demands of the decentralized organic regulation program context, and whether the responsibilities that they prioritize shape their propensity to adhere more strictly or loosely to organic regulations.
Argues that certifier reputation is among the more important factors in “regulatee choice” decisions, where voluntary regulatory program participants choose from among certifier alternatives.