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Uncertainty and the dangers of monocultures in regulation, analysis, and practice

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  • Bronk, Richard
  • Jacoby, Wade

Abstract

Uncertainty is endemic to innovative economies and complex societies, but policymakers underestimate how damaging this is for many of their guiding assumptions. In particular, the discourse of best practice, "global solutions for global problems," and regulatory harmonization becomes questionable when there is substantial uncertainty about the future. This uncertainty makes it impossible to know what best practice will be and increases the danger that harmonization will result in highly correlated errors and shared analytical blind spots. The transnational harmonization of regulation has well-known advantages, but - especially in technocratic policy areas - also creates vulnerability to unexpected challenges by constraining how we think as well as homogenizing how we act. Faced with uncertainty, policymakers should be wary of monocultures in regulation, analysis, and practice, and instead focus on managing policy diversity to limit its costs. This paper's theoretical argument is grounded in philosophy, the history of ideas, and even biology. However, we also present empirical examples and consider some implications for political theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Bronk, Richard & Jacoby, Wade, 2016. "Uncertainty and the dangers of monocultures in regulation, analysis, and practice," MPIfG Discussion Paper 16/6, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:166
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