CARR Research 2005-2010

CARR became an ESRC-funded research centre in October 2000, building on core funding for a chair from the Michael Peacock Charitable Foundation. In its first five years, CARR provided a unique environment for interdisciplinary and comparative research by scholars of regulation and of risk management.

  • A wide ranging focus on the institutional settings for the regulation of risk;
  • A comparative focus on a variety of national contexts and cultures;
  • A comparative focus on overlapping 'risk-processing-domains' (eg, food, finance, environment, operations; organisation-wide risk management; the interaction of different risk regimes; and 'complex risk'). 

Risk regulation refers to the governance, accountability and processing of risks, both within organisations as part of their risk management and compliance functions, and also at the level of regulatory and other agencies that constitute 'risk regulation regimes'.

CARR's programme of work consists of a number of discrete projects, each of which will address one or more of three cross-cutting themes:

  • Performance, accountability and information
  • Knowledge, technology and expertise
  • Reputation, security and trust

It is envisaged that individual projects will address established risk regulation topics, for example discussion of state responses to risks and how one might explain variations in risk regimes; the influence of risk debates on regulatory policy; and trans-boundary risk regulation. They will, however, add a number of distinctive features to these established themes:

  • a concern with organisational risk management scholarship, a literature that is of growing relevance as risk management approaches are advocated by the government as a way of organising their public service activities;
  • consideration of regulation beyond the state - this embraces conceptualisations of regulation as de-centred from the state and focuses on the broadening participatory base for regulation and risk management practices.
  • a focus on the social and institutional character of risk management techniques, including quantitative methods and models.

More generally, CARR is committed to building theoretical and empirical linkages between studies of risk management and of regulatory processes, and to developing interdisciplinary studies at the intersection of management, sociology, organisation theory, economics, political science and law.

Additional information about research is available from LSE's Research and Project Development Division.


Prof Bridget Hutter


Business Risk Management: Managing Risks and Responding to Regulation

Bridget Hutter and Clive Jones

This project focuses on these important issues by examining the influence exercised by different government and non-government regulatory sources over business risk management. In particular, it draws on a detailed analysis of the risk management practices of food retail and hospitality businesses in the UK. The project's objectives are:

  • To investigate how business risk management practices may influence and be influenced by various sources of regulation. This includes those external to the business (for example, state regulators; the law; trade associations; shareholders; consultants; civil society organizations; insurance companies and consumers) and those internal to businesses (for example, Board directives, risk officers, union/employee representation and professional groups).
  • To examine how businesses manage risks, for example, the tools and techniques, knowledge and expertise employed to manage risk within the organization.
  • To analyze the institutional and policy changes resulting from external/internal influences and impact (if any) on the everyday practice of business organizations and the individuals working within them. This involves consideration of the pressures of compliance and non-compliance at each of these levels and how these relate to understandings of risk and uncertainty.

Project's outputs:

Hutter, Bridget M.; Jones, C. (2007) 'From government to governance: external influences on business risk management.' International Journal of Regulation and Governance 1, no. 1 (2007), pp. 27-45.

Hutter, Bridget M.; Jones, C. (2006) 'Business Risk Management Practices: The Influence of State Regulatory Agencies and Non-State Sources' CARR Discussion Paper Series No. 41

Hutter, B.M. and Jones, C. (2006) 'Managing Risks: Who Influences Businesses?' Environmental Health Scotland Vol 18, No. 2: 4-9

A monograph Business Risk Management: Managing Risks and Responding to Regulation in the Food Industry is currently being drafted.

Hutter, B.M. (2006) 'Managing Risks: Influence and Variation in then Food Industry'. Cullen Centre for Risk & Governance, Glasgow May 2006

Hutter, B.M. and Jones, C. (2006) 'From Government to Governance: External Influences on Business Risk Management'. LSA Annual Meeting Baltimore, July 2006

Hutter, B.M. (2006) 'Who Regulates Beyond the State?'. Politics Department and Centre for Regulatory Governance University of Exeter, Nov 2006

Risk based regulation

Risk based approaches to regulation have gained in popularity over the past 20 years. In the UK the Hampton Review (2005), commissioned by HM Treasury, placed risk based regulation at the centre of its recommendations for improving regulatory inspection and enforcement. It recommended 'entrenching the principle of risk assessment throughout the regulatory system, so that the burden of enforcement falls most on highest-risk businesses, and least on those with the best records of compliance' (2005: 8). The Report's recommendations on risk based regulation were fully endorsed by the Government and UK regulators were directed to adopt this approach (HMT, 2006).

This project explores the various meanings attaching to the term risk-based regulation. It is cautious about claiming universality and examines variations in the take up of risk based approaches according to domain and country. The advantages and limitations of the approach have been examined.

Project's outputs:

Lloyd-Bostock, S. and Hutter, B.M. (2008) 'Reforming regulation of the medical profession: the risks of risk-based approaches.' Health, Risk and Society 10, no. 1 pp. 69-83.

Hutter, B.M. (2005) 'The Attractions of Risk-based Regulation: Accounting for the Emergence of Risk Ideas in Regulation'. CARR Discussion Paper 33

Hutter, B.M. (2004) 'Risk Management and Governance' in Eliadis, P, Hill, MM and Howlett, M (eds.) Designing Government: From Instruments to Governance, Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press

Keynote address on 'Risk Management and Governance' at the Joint NPIA, ACPO and Home Office Research Conference on Managing Risk To Improve Policing in Birmingham, October 18th, 2007.

Presentation on 'What is risk based regulation?' to FOCA/EPFL workshop Risk-based regulation and certification: implications for the aviation sector, Magglingen, Switzerland, November 2006

Break Out Sessions on Risk, Risk Assessment and Risk-based Regulation organized, introduced and run by Prof Bridget Hutter. Better Regulation: The New Agenda - A Conference for Independent Regulators organized by BRTF and NAO, 2nd November 2005, Jolly Hotel St Ermins, Caxton Street, London.

Hutter, B.M. (2007) 'Risk Based Regulation: Some Myths, Risks & Dilemmas'. CARR Conference "Organising risk regulation: current dilemmas, future directions" March 2007, LSE.

Dr David Demortain


Genealogy and regulatory effects of risk analysis

This project seeks to improve our understanding of the trans-domain dimension of risk analysis. As a generic discipline, risk analysis has applications in fields as diverse as finance and food safety. However the particular techniques and designs employed in each field strongly vary, to the extent that risk analysis often appears to be a mere language to legitimise highly contextual practices.

The genealogy looks at the intellectual origins of risk analysis, tracing its manifestations in various domains as well as its links (or absence of links) with sister disciplines and concepts such as systems analysis, operations research, fault-tree analysis, cost-benefit analysis. It mainly uses semi-quantitative content analysis to that end, supplemented by readings and interviews with academics and scientists involved in these developments. It also uses archives of regulatory organisations which have formalised protocols and designs for risk analysis.

Controversies in regulatory science

This project aims to understand the dynamics of closure and un-bounding of regulatory sciences. Toxicology as a science was to a large extent constituted in response to demands of regulators for tools to evaluate and control chemicals (food additives, pesticides).

Research so far has not managed to explain how toxicology managed to constitute itself as a necessary regulatory discipline, how the "core-sets" (Jasanoff) or the epistemic community that produced its dominant methodologies and concepts, succeeded in turning those into a "core-battery" of tests and trials that every chemical should be submitted to. More importantly, research is now needed to understand how such stabilised body of knowledge gets questioned as new products emerge - biotechnologies mainly - as well as new tools for biological analysis (e.g. genomics and high-throughput-screening).

The project looks into this contemporary questioning of a regulatory science that had achieved closure and stability. The research is based on case-studies of the controversy surrounding the marketing of biotechnologies, such as MON863. It includes a historical study of the constitution of the profession of toxicology and of the emergence of new methodologies and technologies for the assay of biotechnologies and evaluation of their risks. It mobilises different qualitative methods such as interviews, content analysis and archival work.

Dr John Downer


Book project: "From Black Box to Check-Box: evaluating reliability in civil aircraft design."

I am writing a book about the 'type-certification' process, through which the Federal Aviation Administration evaluate and approve (or not) designs for new civil aircraft. In this book I draw on recent work in the sociology of technology to ask what it means to say that a future aircraft (or any complex technology) will be reliable to a figure of X [Where X is the likelihood of catastrophic failure over a given period]. Where does this number come from? How much faith should publics and policy-makers place in it?

Related Publications:

Downer, John (2007) "When the Chick Hits the Fan: Representativeness and Reproducibility in Technological Testing." in Social Studies of Science. Vol. 31 No.1 Feb. 2007 pp.7-26

Downer, John (2008) "On Evaluating One's Self: The implications of asymmetrical expertise in aviation regulation" in Risk & Regulation. October, 2008.

Downer, John (2009) "'When Failure Is an option: Redundancy, Reliability, and Risk." Forthcoming.

Ancillary Project: "What is Risk-Based Policy-making?"

This project has its roots in a period of academic consultancy, undertaken in late 2007 and early 2008 in the UK Department of Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra). The project looked at the meaning and potential implementation of risk-based policy-making. Together with Henry Rothstein from Kings College London, I spent nine months inside the department, interviewing people and looking at how policy decisions and practices could draw more explicitly on different notions of 'risk'.

Related publications:

Rothstein, Henry & Downer, John (2008) "Risk in Policy-making: Managing the risks of risk governance" Report to Defra, 2008

Downer, John & Rothstein, Henry (2008) "What is Risk-Based Policy-Making?: Heather & grass burning reform case-study." Report to Defra, 2008

Dr Sharon Gilad


Talking about Fairness: Regulation beyond Rules and Regulators

This project analyses the implementation of 'principles-based regulation'. It seeks to theorise how the deployment of principles (vs. detailed rules) shapes actors' participation in constructing the meaning of regulation. This question is analysed with regards to the process towards the implementation of the Financial Services Authority's Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) initiative, which is an ambitious attempt to use principles-based regulation to transform the culture of retail finance provision. Specific research questions explore how TCF shapes the following:


  • the FSA's interaction with firms
  • the participation in conversations about regulation within firms
  • firms' conversations about regulation with other firms
  • the participation of intermediaries - trading associations, consultants etc. - in conversations about regulation
  • the translation of principles into management technologies

Dr Jeanette Hofmann


Address space depletion on the Internet? - Framing risks as a form of transnational coordination

The general research question concerns the relationship between perceptions of risks, transnational coordination and subsequent institution building. Roughly 25 years after its inception, the Internet is still a new social realm with a low level of stable institutions and regulatory provisions. Particularly among those who were involved in the early development of the Internet, rules and regulations are commonly regarded as a double edged sword that does not only enable but also restricts action and potentially innovation. There is still a noticeable reservation towards formal types of coordination on the Internet. The research project aims to investigate:

  • how the problem of address space exhaustion is framed and approached by various actors,
  • which problem solving options are taken into account (and which are dismissed),
  • how various risks are described and weighed against each other,
  • who participates in the problem solving activities,
  • which sources of authority are invoked to achieve and perhaps implement a solution.

Project's outcome:

To date the Internet infrastructure attracts much more attention in the engineering departments than in the social sciences. There are only few researchers who study the management of the Internet's address system and domain name system. This project will be among the first studies on the Internet address system and probably the first one that investigates the pending transition to IPv6. The conceptual outcome of the project aims to contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of transnational institution building pertaining to the Internet.

The particular focus will be on the relationship between perceptions of risk and institution building. A potential starting point for studying the relationship between risk perceptions and institutions are the assumptions that "social organizations will emphasize those [risks] that reinforce the moral, political, or religious order that holds the group together" and that risk perceptions thus reflect "institutional procedures for allocating responsibility, for self-justification, or for calling others to account (Rayner 1992: 87; 92).


Professor Sally Lloyd Bostock


An analysis of data on registration and fitness to practice cases held by the GMC in the context of risk-based approaches to medical regulation

Funded by the ESRC within the Public Services Programme (Programme Director: Christopher Hood, Gladstone Professor of Government and Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. (

This is an exploratory project over one year, scheduled to end in February 2009. As risk-based approaches to regulation become increasingly popular, sources of potentially relevant data are being sought to meet the approaches' heavy information demands. The project's main objective is to assess data held by the General Medical Council (GMC) in the context of its potential value for informing and shaping regulatory activity. The GMC records basic registration information on individual doctors, and detailed information on 'fitness to practice' cases.

The project aims to clarify the nature of the information currently in the GMC's databases, and to ask what can be learnt from it, either on its own or in combination with other sources of information, for regulatory purposes beyond handling individual cases. What is the potential and what are the pitfalls in using this information for identifying and assessing risks?

Any information is a function of the processes whereby it has been generated, and information generated in one context for particular purposes can have important limitations in another context. The project therefore concentrates on the sources of the GMC's information, the purposes for which it is collected, its filtering and coding.


Dr Martin Lodge


  • Public Service Bargains (with Christopher Hood)
  • Network Regulation in the English-speaking Caribbean (with Lindsay Stirton), funded by the Association of Commonwealth Universities
  • Transposition of EU Directives
  • Modes of Control and Meat Inspections

Publication Projects

The Politics of Security of Supply Publication projects Oxford Handbook of Regulation (co-edited with Martin Cave and Robert Baldwin)