Chapter 1: What is Regulatory Innovation?
Julia Black INTRODUCTION Innovation is the cure currently prescribed for the ailing state. It is a key part of the ‘reinventing government’ debate (Osborne and Gaebler 1993) and occupies a central role in debates on regulatory reform (e.g. OECD 1995; European Commission 2002). Just as companies have long been told to ‘innovate or die’ (Schumpeter 1976), public agencies are being told that innovation should become one of their ‘core activities’ (Cabinet Office 2003). ‘How to’ guides to public policy innovation proliferate (e.g. Osborne and Gaebler 1993; Sparrow 2000; Cabinet Office 2003), government departments, statutory bodies and pressure groups exist to promote public sector innovation (e.g. the New South Wales Innovation Centre, the US Institute for Policy Innovation, the Bertelsmann Stiftung in Germany) and awards for innovation are features of the administrative landscape in many countries including the USA, the UK, Germany, Canada and Australia. In contrast, for others, innovation is the treatment which causes its own disease. For example, contrary to the ‘innovation as success’ message of the regulatory reform literature, Michael Moran’s thesis is that innovation has been a ‘fiasco’, with the negative consequences of innovation in turn prompting more innovation in an ever ascending, or descending, spiral. Moran argues that in the UK, the last 30 or so years have been an era of ‘hyperinnovation’, ‘the frenetic selection of new institutional modes, and their equally frenetic replacement by alternatives’ (Moran 2003, p. 26). In Moran’s argument, hyper-innovation takes the form of new institutional forms of governance, ranging from...
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