An independent, charitable organisation dedicated to the study of regulation and deregulation 

Announcements

Annual Competition and Regulation Conference

We are pleased to share the dates for the Annual Competition and Regulation Conference. It will be held on the 27th & 28th of September at Lady Margaret Hall. We hope to see you there!

Further details will be released in the coming months. For now, save the date!

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The changing role of independent economic regulators in decision-making for major infrastructure projects in the UK

The RPI Research Group is currently developing a programme of work to explore the evolution of decision-making processes for major infrastructure projects. It will investigate the role and effectiveness of independent regulators in this process, identifying the conflicts and ambiguities that have emerged from increasing tensions between the traditional role of an independent regulator and the emerging strategic priorities of government. The programme seeks to draw conclusions about the impacts that these tensions have had on accountability, forecasting in the context of uncertainty, adaptation to changes in technology, and incentivisation of investment; asking if a new decision-making paradigm which reconciles the often conflicting priorities of government and independent regulator, while capturing the long-term nature of such investments, is required.

Recent Documents

five bulb lights
Insights into Regulation

Technology Tussles: The Trilemma Strikes Back!

We have written before about the need for effortful and holistic thinking in the context of global decarbonisation, and about the perils of disconnecting local actions from global outcomes by retreat into a ‘net-zero in one country’ mindset. In this RPI Insights blog we highlight the dangers of partial thinking associated with indulgence of the false prophet of universal technology solution(s), blindness to potential ‘concentration risk’ and the resulting creation of systemic vulnerabilities, inadequate thinking around the physical resilience of energy infrastructure in the face of a changing climate, and reluctance to acknowledge either the regional realpolitik of the energy transition or the implicit policy tensions, uncertainties, and trade-offs around how it unfolds.

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spider web with drops of water
Insights into Regulation

Policy myopia – open your eyes (plural) and see

In a recent blog, the Insight Team highlighted the dangers of poorly constructed policies in terms of the increased distractions imposed on managers at the expense of a focus on business investment and innovation. In this follow-up, we consider recent financial market turbulence as another example of policy gone wrong. We argue that help in assessing and learning from it might lie in an appreciation of both history and the present – from the work of Adam Smith to recent developments in modern neuroscience, in particular the insights of Iain McGilchrist.

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close up photography of yellow green red and brown plastic cones on white lined surface
Insights into Regulation

The burdens (plural) of regulation

Policy debates about the burden of regulation have tended to focus on estimates of administrative costs imposed upon firms and have tended to rely on an assumption that simply eliminating some of the regulations (“cutting red tape”) will lead to significant reductions in the costs imposed. Here, the Insights Team take a different perspective, recalling both RPI empirical research on these issues for the UK Cabinet Office nearly 20 years ago and the earlier “Penrose Effect”, named after Professor Edith Penrose. They argue that much more substantive effects arise from poorly considered and conducted changes in regulations in consequence of their increased calls on limited senior management bandwidth available for addressing the challenges involved in investing, innovating and expanding a business.

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person s left hand holding green leaf plant
Insights into Regulation

The End of Net Zero

The first Insights blog of the new year continues to emphasise a central theme of earlier pieces: the dangers of taking an overly narrow view of policy challenges, whether that be the result of failure to recognise wider, salient features of a broader context, or of taking unduly narrow view of target outcomes in policy responses to the challenges. The same theme is to be found in earlier RPI critiques of ‘pixelation’ in regulatory assessment, grounded in an analogy with perceptions of a digital picture which are drawn to a relatively small bloc of pixels and focus disproportionately on it, to the neglect of all else. The blog contains a striking quotation from Keynes, who was ever unpixelated.

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Enquiries

If you are interested in finding out more about, sponsoring, or collaborating with us on any aspect of these research programmes, or if you would like to commission bespoke work from the RPI Research Group, please contact us at: