Zum Hauptinhalt springen

Regulatory experimentation as a tool to generate learning processes and govern innovation, An analysis of 26 international cases

Thore Sören Bischoff, Kaja von der Leyen, Simon Winkler-Portmann, Dierk Bauknecht et al

sofia Diskussionsbeiträge 2020, No. 7 https://doi.org/10.46850/sofia.9783941627857

Regulatory experiments can be useful to guide complex transitions in the field of sustainable development. They help to understand the effects of policies and regulations and offer insights into the dynamics of social processes. Empirical studies analyzing heterogeneous samples of regulatory experiments are missing. This paper uses a qualitative content analysis to examine 26 international cases of regulatory experiments in the field of sustainable development. The results show the diversity of existing regulatory experiments in terms of their design. We use the results to formulate implications on how to use regulatory experiments that facilitate learning processes.

Access full article


  1. Bauknecht, D, Bischoff, T, Bizer, K, Fuehr, M, Gailhofer, P, Heyen, DA, Proeger, T, Von der Leyen, K: Exploring the pathways: Regulatory experiments for Sustain-able Development – An interdisciplinary Approach. Journal of Governance and Regulation 9(3), 49-71. DOI: https://doi.org/10.22495/jgrv9i3art4.
  2. Bizer, K, Führ, M: Compact Guidelines: Practical Procedure in Interdisciplinary Institutional Analysis. sofia-Diskussionsbeiträge 15-4, Darmstadt (2015).
  3. BMWi (German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy) (ed.): Making space for innovation: The handbook for regulatory sandboxes. Berlin (2019).
  4. Banerjee, AV, Duflo, E: The Experimental Approach to Development Economics. Annu. Rev. Econ. 1, 151-178 (2009). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.econom-ics.050708.143235.
  5. Carstensen, T.A., Olafsson, A.S, Bech, N.M., Poulsen, T.S. and Zhao, C.: The spatio-temporal development of Copenhagen’s bicycle infrastructure 1912-2013. Geografisk tidsskrift [Danish Journal of Geography] 115(2), 142-156 (2015). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00167223.2015.1034151.
  6. Dehejia, R: Experimental and Non-Experimental Methods in Development Economics: A Porous Dialectic. JGD 6(1), 47-69 (2015). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jgd-2014-0005.
  7. Duflo, E: Field Experiment in Development Economics. Paper prepared for the World Congress of the Econometric Society, January 2006.
  8. Duflo, E, Kremer, M, Robinson, J: Understanding Fertilizer Adoptation: Evidence from Field Experiments. Mimeo, MIT.
  9. Elzen, B, Geels, FW: General Introduction: System Innovation and Transitions to Sustainability. In: Elzen, B, Geels, FW, Green, K (eds.) System Innovation and the Transition to Sustainability: Theory, Evidence and Policy, pp. 1-16. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, Northampton (2004). DOI: https://doi.org/10.4337/9781845423421.
  10. Erdmann, G: Innovation, Time and Sustainability. In: Weber, M. and Hemmelskamp, J. (eds.) Towards Environmental Innovation Systems, pp. 195–207. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer (2005). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/3-540-27298-4_11.
  11. FCA (Financial Conduct Authority): Regulatory sandbox. Retrieved from https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/research/regulatory-sandbox.pdf (2015).
  12. Flick, U: Qualitative Sozialforschung – Eine Einführung. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg (2011).
  13. Geels, FW: Socio-technical transitions to sustainability: a review of criticisms and elaborations of the Multi-Level Perspective. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 187-201 (2019). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2019.06.009.
  14. Geels, FW: A socio-technical analysis of low-carbon transitions: introducing the multi-level perspective into transport studies. Journal of Transport Geography 24, 471-482 (2012). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrango.2012.01.021.
  15. Geels, FW: The multi-level perspective on sustainability transitions: Responses to seven criticisms. Environmental Innovation and Social Transitions 1(1), 24-40 (2011). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eist.2011.02.002.
  16. Geels, FW: Processes and patterns in transitions and system innovations: Refining the co-evolutionary multi-level perspective.72(6), 681-696 (2005). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2004.08.014.
  17. Geels, FW, Schot, J: Typology of sociotechnical transition pathways. Research Policy 36(3), 399-417 (2007). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2007.01.003.
  18. Gerber, A, Green, D: Reclaiming the experimental tradition in political science. In: Katznelson, I, Milner, HV (eds.) Political Science: State of the Discipline, pp. 805-832. W.W. Norton, New York (2002).
  19. Gisselquist, RM, Nino-Zarazua, M: What Can Experiments Tell Us About How to Improve Government Performance? JGD 6(1), 1-45 (2015). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jgd2014-0011.
  20. Glaser, BG, Strauss AL: The Discovery of Grounded Theory – Strategies for Qualitative Research. Aldine Publishing Company, Chicago (1967). (German: Grounded Theory. Strategien qualitativer Forschung. Huber, Bern (1998)).
  21. Greenstone, M.: Toward a Culture of Persistant Regulatory Experimentation and Evaluation. In: Moss, D and Cisternino, J (eds.) New Perspectives on Regulation. The Tobin Project, Cambridge (2009).
  22. Hausman, JA, Wise, DA: Attrition bias in experimental and panel data: the Gary income maintenance experiment. Econometrica, 47(2), 455-473 (1979). DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1914193.
  23. Heckman, James J, Smith, JA: Assessing the Case for Social Experiments. Journal of Economic Perspectives 9(2), 85-110 (1995). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.9.2.85
  24. Holland, PW.: Statistics and Causal Inference. Journal of the American Statistical Association 81(396), 945-960 (1986). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01621459.1986.10478354.
  25. Lalonde, R: Evaluating the econometric evaluations of training programs. American Economic Review 76, 604-620 (1986).
  26. Levitt, SD, List, JA: Field experiments in economics: The past, the present, and the future. European Economic Review 53, 1-18 (2009). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euroecorev.2008.12.001.
  27. Li, H, Van Ryzin, GG: A Systematic Review of Experimental Studies in Public Management Journals. In: James, O, Jilke, S, Van Ryzin, GG (eds) Experiments in Public Management Research- Challenges and Contributions. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2017).
  28. Luederitz, C, Schäpke, N, Wiek, A, Lang, DJ, Bergmann, M, Bos, JJ, Burch, S, Davies, A, Evans, J, König, A, Farrelly, MA, Forrest, N, Frantzeskaki, N, Gibson, RB, Kay, B, Loorbach, D, McCormick, K, Parodi, O, Rauschmayer, F, Schneidewind, U, Stauffacher, M, Stelzer, F, Trencher, G, Venjakob, J, Vergragt, PJ, von Wehrden, H, Westley, FR: Learning through evaluation–A tentative evaluative scheme for sustainability transition experiments. Journal of Cleaner Production, 169, 61-76 (2017). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.09.005.
  29. Maaß, V: Experimentierklauseln für die Verwaltung und ihre verfassungsrechtlichen Grenzen. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin (2003).
  30. Mayring, P: Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse – Grundlagen und Technik. Beltz Verlag (2010). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-531-92052-8_42.
  31. McFadgen, B. and Huitema, D.: Experimentation at the interface of science and policy: a multi-case analysis of how policy experiments influence political decision-makers. Policy Sciences 51(2), 161-187 (2018). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11077-017-9276-2.
  32. Meppem, T, Gill, R: Planning for sustainability as a learning concept. Ecological Economics 26, 121–137 (1998). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0921-8009(97)00117-1.
  33. Morton, R, Williams, KC: Experimentation in Political Science. In: Box-Steffensmeier, JM, Brady, HE, Collier, D (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology (2009). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199286546.003.0014.
  34. Ofgem: What is a regulatory sandbox? Retrieved from online: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/what-regulatory-sandbox (2018).
  35. Orcutt, GH and Orcutt, AG: Incentive and Disincentive Experimentation for Income Maintenance Policy Purposes. The American Economic Review, 58(4), 754-772 (1968).
  36. Raven, RPJM, Van den Bosch, S, Weterings, R: Transitions and strategic niche management: towards a competence kit for practitioners. International Journal of Technology Mangement 51(1), 57-74 (2010). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1504/IJTM.2010.033128.
  37. Rietz, T: Three-way experimental election results: strategic voting, coordinated outcomes and Duverger’s Law. In: Plott, CR, Smith, VL (eds.) The Handbook of Experimental Economics Results. Elsevier Science, Amsterdam (2003).
  38. Runst, P, Thomä, J: Does occupational deregulation affect in-company vocational training? Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie) 240(1), 51-88 (2020). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jbnst-2018-0059.
  39. Schwarting, G: Von der Experimentierklausel zur Standardöffnung – ein neuer Weg der Vorbereitung von Rechtsvorschriften?. Retrieved from https://www.uni-speyer.de/files/de/Studium/Lehrende/Schwarting/aufsatz8.pdf (2003).
  40. Van den Bosch-Ohlenschlager, SJM: Transition Experiments: Exploring Societal Changes Towards Sustainability. Dissertation, Erasmus University Rotterdam (2010).
  41. Van Mierlo, B and Beers, PJ: Understanding and governing learning in sustainability transitions: A review. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 34, 255-269 (2020). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eist.2018.08.002.
  42. Waas, T, Hugé, J, Verbruggen, A, Wright, T: Sustainable Development: A Bird’s Eye View. Sustainability, 3(10), 1637–1661 (2011). DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/su3101637.
  43. Yates, F: The early history of experimental design. In: Srivastava, JN (ed.) A Survey of Statistical Design and Linear Model, pp. 581-592. North-Holland, Amsterdam (1975).