Regulatory philosophy, theory and practice: Ka mua, ka muri (transcript of inaugural lecture)

This is the transcript of my inaugural lecture as I have delivered it on 22 October 2019 at the Victoria University of Wellington. The lecture is a summary of a more extensive essay that touches on the same topic. For references to the regulatory literature that I discuss in the lecture, please consult that essay. There is also a more compact version of the text underpinning this lecture, in the form of an opinion piece on the Newsroom.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Mevrouw de provost,

leden van het bestuur van de Victoria University of Wellington,

zeer gewaardeerde toehoorders hier in de zaal en in Nederland via de livestream.

Thank you, Provost for that generous introduction.

It is my pleasure to be with you all today, and a great honor to be delivering my inaugural lecture here at Victoria University.

As central theme for this lecture I have chosen a whakatauki, the Maori proverb: ka mua, ka muri.

This brief statement contains profound truth: By looking backward – by facing the past – we can move forward toward a better future.

Regulation as the implementation of policy to stabilize the social order and promote both the general and economic welfare of all members within a community or state has a bit of a bad reputation.

From the Umbrella Movement protests in Hong Kong and the Extinction Rebellion protests around the globe, to the populist tide sweeping over the U.S. and some parts of Europe, much of the angst being acted-out in present-day societies can be traced back to a deep and pernicious suspicion of regulation, and particularly of centralized, government-controlled regulation.

As with so many fears, this one is an intoxicating cocktail of truth and fiction. It is true that the 20th century has witnessed how regulations can, intentionally or not, be abused to the great detriment of millions of people.

But if we were to zoom out, beyond the horizon of a mere 60 or 70 years of human history – the greater narrative is that regulations have contributed to massive leaps forward in societal stabilization and economic prosperity. It is with this greater narrative – the story of regulation told over 4,000 years of human history – that I wish to begin with this evening,

However, before we turn around to face the past, allow me to define some important terms.

While the concept ‘regulation’ is defined differently across the social sciences, there is a broad consensus that regulation seeks to influence the behaviour of individuals and collectives, in order to make social interaction and transactions predictable, and to reduce uncertainties by setting expectations and codifying consequences.

Regulation is thus vital to many areas of society. Without regulation, the economic system would be unable to create and stabilize expectations regarding access to scarce resources. Without regulation, the legal system would be unable to ensure that normative expectations are stabilized because people would not buy-into a system that seemed inherently unjust. And without regulation, the political system would not be able to achieve collectively binding decisions.

In a phrase: regulation is an essential part of the ‘social glue’ that keeps societies together.

But coming to this understanding did not happen suddenly. Rather, it was a coming-to-terms with reality that played out across human civilizations for millennia.

The exact history of the evolution of early regulatory regimes is unclear. Insights from evolutionary biology, anthropology, population genetics, and so on, indicate that humans are hardwired to cooperate in social groups. The ‘skills’ to cooperate, predominantly shared altruism and kin selection, are programmed in our genomes.

As the political scientist and economist Francis Fukuyama aptly summarized a large body of work on this topic: ‘Human beings are rule-following animals by nature; they are born to conform to the social norms they see around them, and they entrench those rules with often transcendent meaning and value.’

Yet to be able to operate in large social groups, beyond band-level societies, we humans have had to overcome the limits of our in-built regulatory hardwiring to allow for social organisation beyond our biologically-motivated allegiances to kin.

For a long time, there was no specific distinction between law and regulation at least, not as generally understood today. Various civilizations have at different points of pre-modernity developed concepts of property and possession, contracts and obligations, and retaliation of capital and non-capital crimes.

Like money and the printing press, regulation and regulatory regimes had to be invented to either facilitate or enhance cooperation within the social order. And once they were invented, their further development enabled and facilitated more complex and sophisticated forms of cooperation, which then required more sophisticated forms of law and regulation.

It was – and remains – a self-perpetuating cycle.

What is of particular interest for our purposes here today, is that the delivery of pre-modern regulation and the means by which it sought to achieve its aims have gone through comparable stages in different societies around the globe over the course of thousands of years.

In the earliest civilizations, tribal societies operated under an informal, localized system of retribution to ‘pay off’ the harm done by one party to another. This informal system is known as “blood money.”

When exactly such customary regimes of restorative blood money evolved into more complex and uniform regulatory regimes remains at question. Yet by the time King Hammurabi came to power as supreme ruler of Babylon around 1800 BC, we know this transition had been made.

The Codex Hammurabi is one of the oldest preserved sets of laws comprising an extensive set of ‘fitting’ punishments for a variety of harms—this is known as ‘lex talionis.’ For example, Hammurabi stated that if a house built by a builder collapses and kills its owner, the builder shall be put to death. But, if the house collapses and kills the slave of its owner, the builder’s slave shall be put to death.

There are two major differences between the tribal system of blood money and regulatory systems such as Hammurabi’s. First is that blood money seeks to restore harm done, whereas systems such as Hammurabi’s seeks to retaliate for harm done.

Second is that in many tribal societies there often is no sovereign who yields enough power to execute enforcement of legal decisions, which leaves it to the litigant to do so. With the rise of sovereign rulers, the power to enforce rules became invested in them.

This transition from local – and often non-binding restorative regulatory regimes to uniform retaliative regulatory regimes enforced by a sovereign or its representatives allowed, in theory, for treating those regulated equally and consistently under the law across time and space.

The transition from systems of tribal blood money to systems such as Hammurabi’s Code was the first great leap forward for humans creating orderly, just societies. But what this transition fell short in achieving was preventing harm in the first place by shaping desirable behaviour within its citizens.

Under Fajia (‘Legalism’) in ancient China (which emerged ca. 400 BC), and across Europe in the Middle Ages (ca. 6th to 16th century), regulatory regimes evolved further to address this first shortfall—crime prevention.

During this time, regulatory regimes became increasingly deterrence-oriented. Rather than retaliating for a harm after the fact, the act of causing harm was, in theory, deterred through terror. This terror often implied any one of several corporal punishments for offences, major and minor, and was often carried out in public. However, as history bears out many times, controlling behavior through fear is not an effective long-term strategy.

That is why, under Confucianism in ancient China (which experienced a revival from the 6th century), and across Europe during the Enlightenment (the late 17th and early 18th century) regulatory regimes underwent a transition to address this second shortcoming—shaping the ‘good’ citizen. Confucianist and Enlightenment scholars alike called for regulatory intervention that sought to re-educate rule-violators and change their behaviour from within allowing criminals to enter back into society as well-behaved citizens.

These scholars also considered penalties such as imprisonment and re-equipment of individuals through corrective regulatory regimes as more humane than inflicting severe corporal or even capital punishment.

In sum, in prehistoric times, regulatory regimes emerged to encourage social cooperation. From then onward, they evolved from largely restorative-oriented regulatory regimes, to retaliative and deterrence-oriented ones, to correction-oriented regulatory regimes.

I must stress, however, that the exact demarcation between these orientations is not always easy to draw if your look at the history of regulation around the globe.

Yet, starting in the 18th century, two further important developments in the evolution of regulatory regimes were triggered and caused a clear demarcation — a clear break from the past.

First is the social and economic colonization of large parts of the world by European countries. For the first time in human history, the European Enlightenment inspired a new approach to regulatory governance that came to dominate regulatory regimes on a global scale through colonization.

This new attempt at a very nascent version of global order, was coupled with the detrimental social and environmental consequences of the first and second industrial revolutions

It was this second development, which made very clear that this new, Enlightenment-inspired orientation had its limits. The first and second industrial revolutions brought about a range of changes that were unprecedented — if not in terms of substance, then at least in terms of scale.

People were no longer merely subject to harm in their day to day interactions with others, but also to large-scale industrial risks. Industrialisation also led to a novel distribution of harms and risks through rapid urbanisation, negative externalities and the working and living conditions in which large groups of working-class people suddenly found themselves.

It became obvious that many of the new harms and risks were too complex to be addressed through a traditional understanding of law and regulation.

In mainland Europe in particular, these insights led to a growth of harm and risk-pooling initiatives, such as public pensions, unemployment insurance, and public health schemes—all examples in which harm and risk is an object of regulatory governance.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the regime of tort law in the United States, in which the evidentiary burden is on the plaintiff, turned out to be unable to deal with many of the indirect or slow-to-materialise risks that arose from industrialisation. Between the 1960s and the 1990s, this led to a move in the United States away from minimal federal regulation towards an approach of risk governance in which the government often took action to regulate anticipated health, safety and environmental harms. Risk technologies (particularly risk estimation) were seen as a way of providing public security.

Regulation thus moved further away from restoring harm done in the past and towards preventing harm from occurring in the first place.

From the time before King Hammurabi until roughly the 1960s, regulatory regimes had evolved from government-led, top-down, intrusive interventions based on deterrence and correction, aiming to control activities, products, processes or behaviours of individuals and groups to seeking to proactively achieve desirable societal goals.

This recent approach to regulatory governance is often referred to as command-and-control. In its various guises, command-and-control has provided humanity with a mechanism to collaborate in ever larger and ever more complex social groups.

Yet, from the 1960s onward command-and-control has faced ever-increasing criticism and scrutiny. Understanding the shortcomings of command-and-control and responding to societies’ calls for regulatory reform, governments around the globe have been actively innovating with regulatory regimes since the 1960s.

The innovations that are undertaken attempted to shift away from the traditional top-down, intrusive, government-led command-and-control strategy.

Yet, none of the innovations to date have substantially changed that strategy. Instead, innovations are often layered onto it, not so much to replace existing regulatory regimes but to finetune them.

Overviewing the regulatory literature, four innovations have dominated regulatory reform since the 1960s:

First, an embracing of nuanced, mixed regulatory regimes that combine deterrence-oriented and compliance-oriented regulation.

From the 1960s onwards, evidence began to accumulate that many people comply with regulations not because they fear the consequences of non-compliance—as so many of the old regulatory regimes had assumed—but because they feel a moral duty to obey.

These insights into the strengths and weaknesses of deterrence-oriented and compliance-oriented regulation led to a ground-braking strategy: responsive regulation.

Responsive regulation builds on the notion that rejecting deterrence-oriented regulation is naïve, while total commitment to it might lead to unnecessary employment of means. Responsive regulation, therefore, promotes the use of different, less punitive and less restrictive regulation and blend these with more punitive and restrictive responses if the situation calls for it.

Second, an embracing of risk management strategies raised calls to prioritise regulatory actions designed to allocate limited regulatory resources in a rational, transparent and accountable manner.

In the 1980s, there was a call on government departments to become more cost-effective and efficient. Inspired by the successful wielding of risk assessment and risk management tools in the business sector, government departments began to embrace these tools too.

In risk-based regulation, the focus is on the allocation of resources based on risk levels. Essential to risk regulatory governance and risk-based regulation is that risk is used as a decision-making resource that allows for a reasoned response to a possible harm or gain.

The third dominant regulatory reform since the 1960s is, an embracing of non-state actors in regulatory governance.

Growing criticism of expensive, bureaucratic regulation led to a range of initiatives to contract out or delegate regulatory tasks to private sector agents, or even to privatize these tasks fully.

Also, because governmental regulators often lacked relevant capacity and expertise they had to turn to external, non-government ‘regulatory intermediaries’ for rule development, defining standards, and rule-monitoring and enforcement.

Fourth, an embracing of a more realistic, ‘less rational’ human behaviour model.

Regulatory governance, like many areas of policy making and implementation, has long been built on rational choice theory—and often still is.

Rational choice theory is an analytical framework for understanding and modelling the social and economic behaviour of groups of people. As we see so often in the history of modern regulatory governance, the origins of rational choice theory can also be traced back to Enlightenment thinking.

Yet, more recently, applied insight from behavioural economics, cognitive sciences and psychology have, however, revealed that humans often are less rational in making choices under uncertainty than is predicted the rational choice model that underpins so many of our current regulatory regimes.

Following these insights, since the early 2000s governments around the world have begun to embrace a more realistic human behaviour model through behaviour-informed regulatory interventions.

In sum, rapid industrialisation, awareness of the rising costs of traditional regulatory regimes, and rapid globalisation driven first by industry and then by technology highlighted the limitations of the traditional command-and-control regulatory strategies of the early 20th century.

However, rather than a full overhaul of this regulatory strategy, governments around the globe have turned to a variety of ‘patches’ that apply insights from psychology, the behavioural sciences and criminology about compliance motivations; insights from economics and risk studies about how to best allocate limited regulatory resources to achieve the greatest net-effect; and the involvement of non-government individuals and organisations in the development, implementation and enforcement of regulation.

Still, a series of major and smaller regulatory crises over the past decades – such as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, the “mad cow” crisis in the 1990s, the global financial crisis in the 2000s, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, and the global climate crisis we’re facing today – indicate that despite centuries of advancements in regulation, societies remain exposed to real and novel harms and risks.

Our historical analysis of regulatory governance has indicated that regulators have a wide variety of tools and strategies at their disposal. Yet, these all may cause different results depending on the regulatory contexts and the societal context within which they operate; as well as how they interact with each other.

When implemented in an ad hoc manner, as we so often observe, it is unlikely that any of the regulatory tools, instruments, strategies or processes we’ve discussed thus far are capable of providing sufficient, long-term answers to our present set of regulatory problems.

Some scholars argue that rather than seeking a ‘quick fix’ in response to incidents, regulators may be better off becoming more anticipatory, and focusing, for instance, on meta-regulation reform—that is, rethinking the rules that specify how regulation may be altered, and reconsidering how to deal with ambiguity and contradictions in the regulatory process. A focus on meta-regulation asks questions of what we consider legitimate and acceptable approaches to rule making and rule implementation.

Recent scholarship also points towards a trend of experimentation in regulatory governance. The observed trend of experimentation fits a long tradition of experimentalism in policy-design and evidence-based policymaking. This trend towards experimentation acknowledges that many of today’s regulatory challenges are too complex to address with traditional regulatory interventions and that conventional, generic, one-size-fits-all regulatory interventions easily result in under- or over-regulation.

Key to experimentation in regulatory governance is a careful exploration of tailored interventions that are both informed by and adapted to their immediate context To this end, experiments seek to draw lessons about outcomes that may be expected when the experiment is formalised and included in future policy.

As we take our last backward-glancing steps towards the future of regulation, we can see that from the 1960s onwards major changes can be observed in the design and development of regulatory regimes. From the early 1960s onward, we have observed a finetuning of these new regimes and instruments, and an ongoing mixing and matching of different regulatory philosophies and theories in both the institutional and instrumental sides of regulatory governance. The current trends in regulatory reform focus on higher levels of abstraction through meta-regulation as well as a more ‘scientific’ approach to regulatory reform through formal experiments.

But now let’s take a turn and look to the future. How can the knowledge that we have gained in the past help to address the main regulatory challenges we face today? And more practically, what is it that I aim to contribute to addressing those challenges as Chair in Regulatory Practice?          

In this inaugural lecture, I have aimed to contribute to a better understanding of regulation as an essential part of our society. We have, so far, explored the history of regulation, in all of its great leaps of progress and in all the ways it is still beset with problems.

But a pressing question remains: what is it that we are pursuing here?

Before answering the question how to move forward, we must also answer the question why regulation is (or is not) essential for society as we know it.

Recall, regulation and particularly regulatory regimes are a main part of how we humans have overcome our biological limitations to social cooperation.

What we are seeking, then, is a sum greater than the parts: a meta-order that serves as the backbone and fenceline, compass and codebook, fiber and fabric, of liberal democratic society.

Nevertheless, when reviewing the literature there appear as many arguments in favor of regulation and regulatory governance as there are arguments against it.

Let’s explore a few of the most recurring arguments:

First, a set of recurring economics arguments.

Economic regulation is seen as necessary to prevent monopolies, and to set market entry controls and price controls as a means to ensure that consumers have sufficient access to quality and affordable goods and services. It is also seen as necessary to reduce information asymmetries between producers and consumers.

Economic regulation is further seen as necessary to reduce negative externalities. Negative externalities are the costs of production that affects parties who did not choose to incur that cost—for example, carbon emissions from production and consumption. Private law, criminal law, and tort law are then considered too limited to address these failures as already discussed.

In addition, these forms of justice operate ex-post meaning that harm will only be remedied after it has occurred. The latter is particularly problematic when the harm cannot be easily undone such as fatalities or climate change.

Finally, economic regulation is seen as necessary to regulate the markets that were restructured in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as to introduce checks and balances to the privatisation and liberalisation of public services, such as public utilities in the same time.

The typical counter-argument is that government should leave the market to itself because market forces are better at efficiently allocating scarce resources – the ‘laissez-faire, laissez-passer’ argument. Competition between producers is then expected to improve the quality of products and services and bring down prices; and the profitability of a market segment is expected to attract new suppliers which will naturally break situations of (near) monopoly.

A second recurring argument is that regulation is required for achieving social solidarity and security.

This idea builds on principles of equal opportunity and equal distribution of wealth, a moral responsibility of humans to support others in getting the minimal provisions for a good life, and the expectation that reducing poverty will reduce the need of those in need to engage in criminal activities to get access to wealth.

Government regulation is seen here as required, because many who have wealth will not voluntarily give this up to those who do not have it, and checks and balances need to be in place to ensure wealth is distributed justly.

The typical counter-arguments are that (redistributive) welfare regulation provides disincentives to contribute to society and unjustly taxes those who create added value to society, and that market-based alternatives to social security yield more efficient outcomes.

A third recurring argument is that regulation is required to, on the one hand, unburden the justice system and, on the other hand, strengthen the constitutional separation of powers.

If every breach of law had to be processed by the justice system, it would be unnecessarily burdened.

In addition, some argue, the broadening of regulatory agencies and organisations adds additional checks and balances to the constitutional solution of separating powers between the executive, legislature, and judiciary.

The typical counter-argument is that regulation puts too much power in the hands of appointed rather than elected individuals. Regulators, after all, often contribute to the legislature through rule-making, to the judiciary through adjudication, and to the executive through monitoring and enforcement.

A fourth, and for here final, recurring argument is that some regulatory interventions and limitations of individual liberty are for the greater good.

Whilst humans have long been ‘modelled’ as rational, utility maximizing entities in economics and policy making, ongoing research has indicated that often we do not make choices in our own best interest because we lack the information for doing so, the capacity or time to process this information, or are simply biased towards a specific choice.

Regulation may help to prevent people from making choices that harm themselves and guide them towards the choice that is in their own best interest, or prevent poor choices by excluding or prohibiting all suboptimal options.

The typical counter-argument against such paternalistic regulation is that the freedom to err is an essential part of liberty, and that without making mistakes, we will not be able to learn and grow.

In short, a variety of economic, social, institutional, and behavioural arguments have been brought to the fore in support of or against regulatory interventions that in one way or the other involve government. All these arguments have been in a state of conflict, or at least anxious co-existence for more than two centuries now. And these conflicting arguments will, likely, drive innovations in the future regulatory agenda as well.

So, what is it that this future agenda should address? What exactly are today’s main regulatory challenges? Well, that is a question of great debate as well, as you might have guessed.

The academic literature is highly dispersed and mainly discusses detailed challenges in specific examples of regulation. The grey literature is a little more coherent in what the core regulatory challenges are, but the language it uses is perhaps a little too general for my purposes here today. Still, when taking a close look at both literatures some key challenges stand out.

Time and again, the literature points to:

The challenges of allocating limited regulatory resources in a transparent, just and effective manner.

The challenges of growing scepticism towards regulation.

The challenges that come with often siloed and divergent regulatory agencies at international, national and local levels.

The challenges of regulating disruptive and fast-moving technology such as data privacy, cybersecurity, and the internet of things.

The challenges of creating sound knowledge on regulatory models and systems.

The challenges of ethical enforcement practice and the difficulty of frontline regulators to maintain good conduct within the discretionary space they have been given.

The challenges of responding to regulatory failure and restoring public trust in the regulatory system.

The challenge of ongoing regulatory innovation and how that may go against one of the key ambitions of regulation: to create stability

And, of course, the challenges that come with using regulatory governance as an approach to address climate change and increase the resilience of communities, cities and nations.

But for now, and for the sake of time, I wish to focus on just three of these challenges and discuss how I seek to contribute to solving them as the Chair in Regulatory Practice.

The first challenge is that, unfortunately, regulation is often not considered in a positive light; particularly regulation in which government is in one way or other involved.

Policymakers fear the backlash from their voters when suggesting to address harms and risks through regulation. Large and small firms consider government-involved regulations as hampering business and stifling innovation.

Citizens look at government-involved regulation as another example of how the nanny state seeks to influence all aspects of their private lives. Often, such regulation gets a bad rap in public, private and policy debates—and so do the public servants involved in the development, implementation and review of regulation.

I would argue, however, that this bad rap is unjustified, and is often the result of a poor understanding of what regulation is and what it could be.

However, I can see at least two causes of this skepticism: First, regulation is often not well understood by the public at large. Here the Chair in Regulatory Practice may help tell a more nuanced story about regulation and increase the regulatory literacy of the public at large.

Public seminars, like the one today, are helpful in doing so, but other outlets are helpful too. For example, I am maintaining a blog to highlight that regulation is not all restrictions and limitations, but has tremendous value. The blog is also an excellent outlet to share the best examples of easily accessible academic literature with the public at large.

Second, we have learnt from the past that regulators are in an exceptionally difficult position. A challenge for regulators is to justify the costs of regulation when things are calm and justify their actions when regulatory failure occurs. Good regulatory practice and not-so-good regulatory practice are assessed against different standards.

A solution here would be better storytelling by regulators. Strategically selected and shared stories about regulatory success can have wide ripple effects. Through my engagement with the regulatory community in Aotearoa, I seek to tease out these success stories and share them with the wider public.

A second main challenge that we are facing is limited and sometimes poor regulatory knowledge.

Much of what we know of regulation—its development, implementation, practice and outcomes—comes from a relatively small number of real-world examples.

When overviewing the history of regulation and the history of regulatory scholarship I observe that the modest knowledge base we have often gets too much credit, and some regulatory solutions, have seen more following than is warranted by the scientific evidence.

To illustrate this point, I often see much confident nodding when I bring up the regulatory pyramids of John Braithwaite—particularly when I present these to a regulatory practitioner audience. Few will challenge the basic assumption underpinning the model: that regulatory flexibility will yield better and more cost-efficient compliance outcomes than regulatory rigidity. There is great normative appeal to this assumption.

But how much empirical evidence do we have that this regulatory model outperforms others? While the book Responsive Regulation, from which this model comes, is cited close to 5,000 times, only a handful of studies seek to understand its performance in real-world settings. This limited empirical knowledge base is pervasive in regulatory scholarship.

The lack of sound knowledge on what works and what does not is problematic for the future of regulatory practice and regulatory scholarship. If the knowledge base is poor, how can we build strong regulatory systems on top of it?

As Chair in Regulatory Practice, I have therefore begun to map, explore and interrogate the regulatory knowledge base. To this end, I carry out systematic reviews of the academic literature on key regulatory topics and ask: what do we know of this topic, how valid is that knowledge, and what are the most important lessons for regulatory practice and regulatory theory? Through a series of working papers and workshops, I communicate this knowledge with the regulatory practice community, and ultimately, I aim to bring the various findings together in a book for academia and practice.

The third and final challenge I wish to touch on today is regulatory innovation.

The common thread running through the history of regulatory governance is an eagerness for regulatory innovation.

Yet, to speak with the great sociologist Norbert Elias, this thread, the orderly regulatory innovation that we have observed over time, ‘is neither “rational”—if by “rational” we mean that it has resulted intentionally from the purposive deliberation of individual people; nor “irrational”—if by “irrational” we mean that it has arisen in an incomprehensible way.’

I quote Elias here because, I feel, academics and regulatory practitioners alike often read too much regarding and read too much into the ‘deliberate’ processes of regulatory innovation and too little regarding and into the ‘non-deliberate’ day-to-day changing of regulatory practice within the discretionary space that regulators often have.

An area that has had substantially less attention in regulatory reform is regulatory practice and the day-to-day choices made by regulatory frontline workers. Frontline regulators, in particular, have considerable discretionary space in their day-to-day application of regulation. How regulators use their personal agency does have an effect on the outcomes of regulation.

Thus, rather than seeking reform in the machinery-of-government-side of regulation, as basically all reforms up to today have done, another way forward may be to reform, or at least to rethink, the personal agency that regulators have. A focus on the opportunities and constraints of such agency in regulatory practice asks us to move beyond considering regulation in mechanistic terms and instead think about what we expect of those in power when designing and implementing regulatory regimes.

It is important to acknowledge that the major paradigm shifts in regulatory governance—responsive regulation, risk regulation, behaviour-informed regulation, and so on—all appear to be the result of very gradual day-to-day changes at the level of regulatory practice; the typical pragmatic solutions chosen at the regulatory frontlines. The results of these minor changes were, ultimately, recognized by academics who then, looking backward, have distilled the analytical models that help move us forward today.

With that in mind, I am not saying that we should stop our deliberate processes of regulatory innovation. We may, however, wish to become a little more appreciative of what is happening at the regulatory frontlines. The regulatory frontlines are the largest regulatory action laboratory that we have. We need to systematically observe what is happening at the regulatory frontlines, find what we can learn, and then question how we can scale the most promising practices.

This is indeed a task that I wholeheartedly embrace as Professor of Public Governance and Chair in Regulatory Practice here at Victoria University.

Again, those are but three of the main regulatory challenges that I see coming in the years ahead. It is exciting to be in a country and working with a group of regulators that are eager to address these and other challenges.

And with that, I’m nearing the end of my inaugural lecture.

But before I end, some words of thanks.

First, many thanks to the Government Regulatory Practice Initiative, the Treasury and the Victoria University of Wellington for appointing me. It is an absolute honour to be the inaugural Chair in Regulatory Practice.

Many thanks also to all colleagues past and present in Australia, particularly the School of Regulation and Global Governance (also known as RegNet), a string of institutions in the Netherlands, the Victoria Business School in Aotearoa, and a variety of academic organisations elsewhere for supporting me on the journey that has led me to where I am today. And here I wish to say a special thank you to all administrative staff that has supported me and made my academic endeavors all the more easy.

But of the uncountable number of people that have helped me over the years, Professor Peter May at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA, deserves special thanks. Peter, without your early and ongoing support in my academic career I would not have made it this far.

Many thanks as well for unlimited and ongoing support from my family in the Netherlands, my dad and mum, and my brother, who unfortunately cannot be here today in person, but who have been present through the live stream. I am very glad they were able to share this moment with me.

Many thanks also to my good friends in the Netherlands—Joost, Joachiem, Meert—and my friends in Australia and here in Aotearoa for all the support and understanding you have given me over the last several years. Again, without all your support, I would not be here today.

Last, but certainly not least, many, many thanks to Olga for teaming up with me and for joining me on this antipodean adventure. I truly cannot put into words how much I appreciate the enormous sacrifice you have made to make this possible for me.

And to you, ladies and gentlemen of the audience, thank you.

Ik heb gezegd,

Waiho ma te tangata e mihi.

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