Institutional rules for the up-take of regulatory experiments: A comparative case study

Experiments are an important governance instrument for fostering learning between actors, improving governance, and managing transition pathways for sustainable development. However, determinants of the up-take of the result of experiments are underexplored in the transition experimentation literature. Consequently, we explore the role of experimental design and institutions in this up-take. This paper examines the following research question: How is the up-take of regulatory experiments for sustainability transitions influenced by their design elements and what role do institutions play? The paper uses comparative qualitative content analysis to examine 27 international regulatory experiments. In analyzing the up-take of experiments, we focus on three dimensions: transferability, scalability, and unintended consequences. The analysis demonstrates that the transferability of regulatory experiments depends on its regulatory and geographical context as well as its timeframe and the selection of participants. The scalability appears to be mainly influenced by the timeframe and timing of the regulatory experiment as well as the communication of the experimenters with stakeholders and the support of political actors. Furthermore, the influence of unintended consequences from regulatory experiments depend on the diversity of the participants, the communication of the involved actors, and the use of several design options. Our results can inform policymakers and stakeholders about the design and role of institutions in regulatory experiments.