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When governments neglect risk

The latest issue of Risk&Regulation, the magazine of the ESRC's Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation (CARR) at LSE, is now available (published Monday 12 May). The magazine includes articles examining the regulatory fever gripping the NHS, the causes of the exam-marking fiascos, and why some risks to human health and safety can suffer from regulatory neglect.

Regulatory Fever by Lindsay Stirton examines the rapid growth in regulatory institutions and procedures within the NHS. He warns that while increased regulation in the NHS may be helping health service provision 'we may be solving pressing problems at the cost of creating others. Phenomena such as 'NICE-blight' (National Institute for Clinical Excellence), where clinicians avoid useful but non-standard treatments, in favour of marginally effective but sanctioned treatments, are becoming all too common.'

In Exam Howlers or Accidents Waiting to Happen?, Professor Brian Hogwood examines the school exam results debacles in Scotland in 2000 and in England two years later. Professor Hogwood argues that whilst individual mistakes can be identified that were 'perhaps so elementary as to be laughable', broader structural factors were also at work. He identifies a number of common features between the crises, including major and simultaneous changes to the examination systems and organisational arrangements; changes tightly constrained by time pressures; and errors with major effects on the public.

To view a pdf of the article, click here|

In When Government Neglects Risk, Dr Henry Rothstein examines failures to enforce regulatory controls on workplace exposure to radon, a naturally-occurring radioactive gas, which may cause up to 250 lung cancers in workers each year. Dr Rothstein argues that radon controls have been neglected because of four institutional factors: competing demands on institutional priority setting by the UK's Health and Safety Executive; lack of awareness of radon risks amongst inspectors; institutional fragmentation of the regulatory regime; and the culture of health and safety regulation. He warns that such factors present problems for risk regulation more generally. 'Neglect of radon risks in the workplace is remarkably reminiscent of failures to enforce BSE controls during the early 1990s. If government is to better manage public health risks, then it needs to pay greater attention to the institutional factors that can undermine effective risk governance.'

To view a pdf of the article, click here|

Other articles in this issue of Risk&Regulation include:

  • Controlling the Campus by Dr Colin Scott, which examines the regulation of higher education in the UK and Australia and the benefits of meta-regulatory strategies;
  • On the Railroad to Nowhere by Dr Martin Lodge, which examines railway regulation and reform in Britain and Germany through the 20th century;
  • The Operational Risk Game by Professor Michael Power, which examines the challenges of regulating operational risk;
  • Where the Ivory Towers meet the Whitehall Village by Professor Ron Amman, which examines what academics can contribute to understanding policy-making processes.




Risk&Regulation, Issue no.5, Spring 2003 (ISSN 1473-6004) is available in print and on-line, Previous Editions of the Risk&Regulation Magazine|

If you wish to subscribe, please contact Sabrina Antâo, tel: 020 7849 4635

Risk&Regulation is the biannual magazine of the ESRC Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation (CARR). The magazine contains articles by leading scholars in the fields of risk and regulation based at CARR and presents the latest research findings and commentary on risk and regulation related fields including managerial governance, financial control, utilities regulation, health, safety and the environment.

The ESRC Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation is based at the London School of Economics and Political Science. CARR's work focuses on the comparative institutional settings of risk management and regulatory practices and is a multidisciplinary research centre with participation from social scientists working in accounting, economics, geography and environment, law, operational research, political science and sociology.

Lindsay Stirton is a CARR research associate and lecturer in law at the University of East Anglia. Professor Brian Hogwood is a CARR visiting fFellow and professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde. Dr Henry Rothstein is an ESRC research fellow at CARR.

15 May 2003