Regulatory experiments are conducted in order to test new regulations and assess their practical impacts. These experiments can play an important role in managing transitions towards sustainable development, where precisely tailored rules are required to account for the complexity of interactions.
Regulatory experiments are a means to deliberately deviate from the current regulatory framework and try out new rules in a real-world setting in a limited time or space. In order to support these experiments, a research team involving the Oeko-Institut has developed a set of guidelines for public administrations. Entitled How to design and evaluate a Regulatory Experiment? A Guide for Public Administrations, its purpose is to help ensure that the experiments are effective and produce clear results. The authors identify four phases of the experimental process – from goal clarification to evaluation.
The guide differentiates between two types of experiment: “Regulatory Sandboxes” deliberately create temporary exemptions from existing rules in order to test technical, social or organisational innovations. “Regulatory Innovation Trials” aim to test new regulatory options within a limited framework prior to their eventual introduction on a permanent and nationwide basis.
The guide is the culmination of a two-year research project conducted in partnership with the University of Göttingen and Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.