Risk and Regulation

The thematic area ”risk and regulation” addresses how democratic societies seeks to govern risks as an ongoing process of social control striving to prevent types and levels of harm which are unacceptable.

The research area is interdisciplinary where among other sociology, law and technology all play important roles.

Key issues addressed are:

  • Elaborating the theoretical concepts of “risk regulation” and “good governance”
  • Assessing the concept and practise of “enforced self-regulation” in a Norwegian and international context
  • How to organise regulatory agencies vertically and horizontally
  • The role of the regulatory agencies; as controller, change agent, organiser for learning etc.
  • The interplay and relations between the regulator and the regulated, including the “triparties-model
  • Risk analysis/decisions processes within risk regulation
  • The role of standardising and certification within functional risk regulation

At the macro-level, the social control includes government and regulatory institutions and agencies, at the meso-level regulated public and private institutions, organisations and enterprises.

At the micro-level, regulatory processes are connected to among other the use of the technology, implementing procedures to estimate the extent to which hazards threaten or actually cause harm to persons, property, environment and other societal interests. Finally within the process, is striving to reduce particular threats or risks to levels which are acceptable.

Risk governance applies the principles of good governance to the identification, assessment, management and communication of risks. It incorporates such criteria as accountability, participation and transparency within the procedures and structures by which risk related decisions are made and implemented.

The challenge of better risk governance and regulation lies in enabling societies to benefit from change while minimizing the negative consequences of the associated risks. In situation where stakeholders call for society to accept technology risk governance channels interests and concerns into a collaborative process for the level of exploitation when benefits exceed risks.