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Sustainable Behavioral Governance: Responsive Regulation for Innovation

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In a democratic society the transition towards sustainable development is not a question of “command and control” policy, rather it depends on the mobilization of proactive contributions from a broad range of different actors. Thus, the regulatory concept has to be designed as “responsive regulation”, based on an inclusive perspective on behavior to cover all relevant aspects in the context of regulation and innovation.

The article offers as a methodological approach to the regulatory choice problem the homo oeconomicus institutionalis and describes its function in the context of sustainable development. The application is highlighted in a case study of risk communication in the field of nanomaterials and chemical substances. Responsive regulation as behavioral governance aims to support regulators and the public at large in addressing the regulatory choice problems related to challenges on the path to sustainable development.


  • Institutional analysis
  • Sustainability policy
  • Behavioral economics
  • Innovation
  • Responsive regulation

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Fig. 12.2
Fig. 12.3


  1. 1.

    Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008, cf.

  2. 2.

    The app helps to identify cosmetic products containing substances with endocrine disrupting properties (up to now 60,000 products are covered by the service which was developed with the support of the German Environment Protection Agency), cf.

  3. 3.

    Cf. Recitals 4 and 6 to the REACH Regulation referring to the “Strategic Approach to International Chemical Management” (SAICM), a “policy framework” under the auspices of the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) adopted on 6 February 2006 in Dubai;

  4. 4.

    Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of 18 December 2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). OJ L. 396/1 as of 29 May 2007.

  5. 5.

    Regulation (EEC) No 793/93 of 23 March 1993 on the evaluation and control of the risks of existing substances, OJ No L 084/1 as of 5 April 1993.

  6. 6.

    The coordination of enforcement activities is the core task of the “Forum” (Art. 86 REACH) bringing together the “competent authorities” from all Member States. Several activities (EN-FORCE 1 to 3) have been initiated, cf.

  7. 7.

    In what follows, unnamed articles, titles and annexes are those in the REACH Regulation.

  8. 8.

    The registration obligation only applies above 1 ton per year; there are further exceptions for R&D substances; for certain classes of substances such as biocidal active agents REACH only constitutes subsidiary law; some substance applications are regulated exclusively by specific provisions in the sectoral legislation; there are transitional periods for existing substances, etc.

  9. 9.

    For instance, two of the explanations given for judging the effect of REACH on innovation criticize the increased costs for registration, i.e. the bureaucratic effort and financial outlay which SMEs are unable to shoulder. However, the company which supplied these comments is a formulator who has not undertaken registration and is furthermore a large company (not an SME).

  10. 10.

    Four (two large companies, two SMEs) out of five.

  11. 11.

    As an example, in the framework of identifying substances in accordance with Annex VI Section 2, mention is made of the imprecise boundary of independent nanoscale substances compared to their macroscale versions.

  12. 12.

    For a reformulation of technology law from a “risk perspective,” i.e. an attempt to address uncertainty on different levels of decision making, see Führ (2014a).

  13. 13.

    In “real life” situations the downstream users are reported to be less cooperative, at least in the field of “classical” (bulk) substances and the process to prepare jointly a registration dossier.

  14. 14.

    The following is based on Eggert (2014b, c, d) and Eggert and Bizer (2014). All these papers form the cumulative dissertation of Yvonne Eggert conducted within the research grant “RESINA” by the BMBF.

  15. 15.

    See Levitt and List (2007) discuss the generalizability of experimental findings on social preferences.

  16. 16.

    The experiment was developed and carried out with z-Tree (Fischbacher 2007). The experimental sessions took place at the Goettingen Laboratory of Behavioral Economics (GLOBE). Participants were students from different disciplines who have been recruited via ORSEE, the online recruitment system for economic experiments (Greiner 2004). They could only sign up once, either for a session of the CI experiment or the AI experiment. Hence, results are based on pure between-subject variation. Great care was taken to follow identical procedures in each session. Upon arrival, every participant received a subject number that referred to one of the laboratory’s 24 available computer booths. After being seated, the subjects had to read the instructions that included the calculations for the payoff that could be earned by players in the proposer and responder role (see Eggert and Bizer 2014, Appendix). The experiment started after all participants had confirmed their understanding of the game on the “welcome screen.” The subjects were randomly assigned to their player role, as well as being randomly paired. Communication was prohibited throughout the experiment, which was ensured by the physical separation in the booths, as well as supervision of the room.

  17. 17.

    Used extensively by the European Commission (

  18. 18.

    See Chap. 2.


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Bizer, K., Führ, M. (2016). Sustainable Behavioral Governance: Responsive Regulation for Innovation. In: Beckenbach, F., Kahlenborn, W. (eds) New Perspectives for Environmental Policies Through Behavioral Economics. Springer, Cham.

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