The Many Uses of Regulatory Impact Assessment: A Meta-Analysis of EU and UK Cases
Dunlop, Claire A.
Radaelli, Claudio M.
Regulation and Governance
Research on regulation has crossed paths with the literature on policy instruments, showing that regulatory policy instruments contain cognitive and normative beliefs about policy. Thus, their usage stacks the deck in favour of one type of actor or one type of regulatory solution. In this article, we challenge the assumption that there is a pre-determined relationship between ideas, regulatory policy instruments and outcomes. We argue that different combinations of conditions lead to different outcomes, depending on how actors use the instrument. Empirically, we analyze 31 EU and UK case studies of regulatory impact assessment (RIA) – a regulatory policy instrument that has been pivotal in the so-called better regulation movement. We distinguish four main usages of RIA, that is, political, instrumental, communicative, and perfunctory. We find that in our sample instrumental usage is not so rare and that the contrast between communicative and political usages is less stark than is commonly thought. In terms of policy recommendations, our analysis suggests that there may be different paths to desirable outcomes. Policy makers should therefore explore different combinations of conditions leading to the usages they deem desirable rather than arguing for a fixed menu of variables.
This paper is to be presented at the ECPR Joint Sessions in Munster, March 22-27 2010, ECPR Regulatory Governance conference in Dublin June 17-19 2010. Dunlop and Radaelli gratefully acknowledge the support of the European Research Council, grant on Analysis of Learning in Regulatory Governance, ALREG, http://centres.exeter.ac.uk/ceg/research/ALREG/index.php.
The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com and DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-5991.2011.01123.x
Vol. 6, pp. 23 - 45