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Monday, July 10, 2006

New Research in Regulation: Report from LSA’s Regulatory Governance Collaborative Research Network

This year I found the regulatory governance CRN, co-chaired by Cary Conglianese (Penn Law), John Braithwaite (ANU) and Christine Parker (Univ.of Melbourne), to include the most exciting development . Bob Kagan (JSP/Boalt), one of the leaders in regulatory research and an active participant in the CRN, was awarded this year the prize (John Braithwaite, ANU, was awarded the prize two years ago, the first non-American to be awarded the prize since the organization was founded—not coincidently, notice below the number of terrific Aussies that have been dominating the field of regulatory research).

Here are some examples of interesting work presented through the CRN (I described more regulatory research here).

Christine Parker (Univ.of Melbourne) presented her empirical study of compliance in Australian firms with antitrust requirements. In, Do Compliance Systems Make a Difference? Testing the Impact of Complaince System Implementation on Compliace, she finds that answer to be more complex than simply the “yes, greatly effective” versus “no, merely cosmetic” responses that are often formulated in relation to internal compliance requirements. Using both quantitative and qualitative data she finds that while compliance systems do not have an immediate and direct effect on compliance, they  have a positive effect on compliance culture. Compliance culture is the development of a shared institutional belief in the importance of following the regulatory norms. This commitment to compliance eventually leads to better compliance overall.

Fiona Haines (Univ.of Melbourne), an important contributor to the regulatory research field, presented her new study Safety, Security Politics and Fact: Shaping the Regulatory Solution, on responses to catastrophic risks. Her research presents empirical findings on recent responses to industrial disasters and terrorist attacks, responses that emphasize a particular style of “co-regulation”, in which sites are required to create detailed risk management regimes approved by the regulator. She argues that while these regimes can be effective, the context of catastrophic risk in particular lends itself to manipulation by fears of political liability, resulting in excessive and inefficient numbers of rules and procedures.

Dorothy Thornton (UC Berkeley), Bob Kagan (UC Berkeley) and Neil Gunningham (ANU) presented their work, Regulating with Carrots, Regulating with Sticks. Their work explores the U.S. regulatory program to reduce harmful emissions from diesel-powered vehicles, such as trucks and buses. The program employs both traditional command-and-control techniques and financial incentives, offering a subsidy for acquiring newer less polluting vehicles. They conduct an empirical study comparing California which relies on both carrots and sticks) with Texas (which mostly relies on carrots) but without conclusive results. They theorize that in circumstances when regulatory targets cannot pass on the costs of pollution prevention to their customers or clients, and when the services are crucial and must be maintained, then there are likely to be programs that subsidize pollution. They find that the subsidy programs have had substantial effect in reducing emissions.

Garry Gray (Toronto), studies developments in regulatory approaches to occupational safety in Ontario. In his paper, From Victims to Health and Safety Offendors, he describes how the Canadian OSH agency has begun ticketing employees for safety violations, even in instances when the employer receives no reprimand for the violation. This puts workers in the uneasy position of both relying on the agency for greater protection while becoming the target of regulatory enforcement.

In Information Based Regulation in the European On-line Sales Environment, Mary Donnelly & Fidelma White (Ireland) present an empirical study of information based consumer protection in e-commerce, within the legal framework of the EC Distance Selling Directive. Their results challenge the conventional idea of a well-informed consumer that can process available information well. They suggest that a more accurate paradigmatic consumer shopping online is the “ill-informed, confident consumer” who is not aware of legal protections but believes she is knowledgeable about her rights.

Posted by Orly Lobel on July 10, 2006 at 08:26 PM in Orly Lobel | Permalink

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I wonder how you see Ms. Haines’s presentation in relationship to recent comments by Judge Kirby that suggest America may have become too obsessed with terrorism and Australia should work on carving out a policy that doesn’t simply mirror what America is doing. Kirby has received a great deal of criticism for these remarks, from those who point out that Australians ignore the lessons of 9/11 at their peril and that, in point of fact, terrorism has had a marked effect on Australia, if not in a direct sense, through the rise in poverty rates around the world and the disruption of economic markets. Haines seems to be suggesting that terrorism has become a political football to such an extent that politicians of every stripe have rushed to tighten laws and safety guidelines where they aren’t necessarily needed. I tend to agree with her position, but I wondered how she responds to critics who tend to be quite rabid in their attitude towards the specter of terrorism.

Posted by: Laptops | Jun 27, 2007 1:48:46 PM

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