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Edited by Claire A. Dunlop and Claudio M. Radaelli

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Edited by Claire A. Dunlop and Claudio M. Radaelli

This content is available to you

Claire A. Dunlop and Claudio M. Radaelli

This Edward Elgar Handbook of Regulatory Impact Assessment aims to provide a balanced account of what it is to design, make and implement impact assessment (IA) across a range of major policy sectors, countries and regions. In the volume, a field of international academic and practitioner experts guide us through the state of the art of IA in five parts: (1) the analytical approaches that underpin IA; (2) the pre-eminent tools, actors and dimensions; (3) major policy sectors where IA is featured; (4) the regional diffusion of IA; and (5) its implementation analytically, pedagogically and in the field. This introduction fulfils the function of a scene-setting chapter. The authors do not offer a systematic account of IA (assuming that is possible), nor is it a summary of the chapters that follow. Rather, they define what IA is and report on research on impact assessment informed by two disciplines, political science and economics. Specifically, they consider four domains: the theoretical justification of impact assessment, its diffusion across time and jurisdictions, the economic effects and the ways in which governments use this tool. In the conclusions section they reflect on the variability of form and substance.

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Anne C.M. Meuwese and Stijn van Voorst

This chapter presents an overview of how various strands of American and European legal literature deal with regulatory impact assessment (IA). Starting from the role IA plays in the classic field of administrative and constitutional law scholarship, the authors move to more specialized fields such as legislative studies, law and economics and socio-legal studies. They find that – as it becomes more inter-disciplinary – legal scholarship displays a growing interest in the topic, often from a critical perspective.

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Jason A. Schwartz

What is the purpose of cost-benefit analysis in the context of impact assessment? What are the basic methodological steps for conducting cost-benefit analysis? What are the limitations and critiques of this methodology? This chapter demonstrates that form may follow function, and the methodology may change slightly depending on the intended role for cost-benefit analysis. Different ways of implementing cost-benefit analysis can be seen in practice and may be normatively desirable given the competing goals of cost-benefit requirements, which range from maximizing social welfare to enhancing democratic participation or political accountability in the rulemaking process.

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James R. Palmer

This chapter demonstrates some of the broad range of insights that interpretive analysis can offer when directed specifically towards impact assessment (IA) processes. Given their dominance over the appraisal of environmental policies in many developed economies, much of the chapter focuses on what Kysar terms ‘economic optimisation’ approaches, including both conventional risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis (CBA). Specific points are illustrated using examples not just relating to the use of this method, but also to areas where computer modelling and other kinds of detailed technical assessment have been called upon to appraise policy. Throughout, the aim is to highlight several unique contributions that such approaches – taken as a whole – have made, and may continue to make, to academic understandings of IA and its political dimensions, particularly in the environmental sphere.

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Donald Macrae

This chapter argues that impact assessment (IA) should be the ex ante anticipation of how the policy intervention will work in practice and therefore those involved in making it work should be consulted at the design stage, including developing the IA. Where success of the policy depends on changing behaviours, that behaviour change is encapsulated in the term ‘compliance’ and so both the policy-maker at the design stage and the regulator at the delivery stage are seeking to promote the same thing. It follows that the work done on compliance assistance in regulatory delivery should be relevant to the design of new policy interventions. Barriers to compliance found in practice are risks to the success of the policy intervention and therefore they should be anticipated and where possible reduced or removed in the design.

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Scott Jacobs

Over 60 countries have adopted various forms of impact assessment (IA) as a mandatory step in developing new legal norms. Yet, in country after country, IA does not quantify enough impacts, does not define problems using market principles and does not rigorously examine or compare a range of possible solutions. Quantification of benefits is a problem affecting the majority of IAs in many countries. The national ritual of adopting an IA mandate without actually producing anything that can properly be called IA is depressingly familiar. This chapter asks ‘why?’ and focuses on a neglected but critical topic for those proposing the IA approach: the classic IA method itself. Intrinsic barriers to implementation are created by classic methods as they are transferred to ‘new’ IA countries. This chapter argues that the classic IA method is still poorly defined, unduly academic for many countries and has not yet evolved into the practical approach needed for day-to-day implementation in real-life policy scenarios characterized by low skills, inadequate time and poor access to data. In other words, we have not yet developed an IA method that, for most countries, can be practically mainstreamed for the production of relevant and timely policy analysis.

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Paola Coletti

The term bureaucracy acquired an ambiguous significance incorporating subjective feelings that are not well defined: bureaucracy can refer either to an onerous but socially necessary rule with the specific purpose of defending the public interest or to a pathological condition. Practically, red tape refers to a category of compliance costs, the so-called administrative obligations. This chapter analyses the origins and development of programmes to tackle red tape developed in the USA and in major international organizations. It then focuses on the war on red tape at the European level paying attention to the diffusion of the Standard Cost Model (SCM) that was adopted by the European Union institutions, and by almost every European country in the last few years. This methodology measures the stock of administrative burdens stemming from regulation and imposed on enterprises. The final sections of the chapter discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the model before drawing some general conclusions about the tensions that exist between impact assessment (IA) and SCM.

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Lorna Schrefler

Social impact assessment (SIA) faces a persisting difficulty in becoming a fully established practice leading some to nickname it ‘the orphan of the assessment process’. Taking the concept of social impacts as its starting point, this chapter provides an overview of the SIA experience both as a support to policy-making and as an instrument to assess and manage the social consequences of specific projects. The author concludes with some remarks on how to reconcile SIA with other types of impact assessment and increase its relevance in policy appraisal.