Regulatory roles and functions in information-based regulation: a systematic review

Frances Bowen, Panos Panagiotopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Information-based regulation occurs when regulators use information to drive changes in behaviours in order to achieve public policy objectives. Information-based regulation has emerged as an alternative way to regulate firms compared with more traditional direct command-and-control and market-based policy instruments within the contemporary regulatory state. Despite growing international interest, challenges remain in understanding the roles for regulators in information-based regulation, the functions of regulators in shaping and leveraging information flows, and the administrative capacities required to fulfil them. Based on a systematic review methodology, this article synthesises the findings of 130 peer-reviewed articles in the environmental, energy and food policy areas. It develops a typology of functions for regulators and outlines the new administrative capacities required in the contemporary regulatory state, particularly in standard setting, assurance and intermediation, and smart data management. Points for practitioners: Regulation by information is becoming popular in many part of the world beyond its original genesis in the US and other developed countries. The design and implementation of such schemes creates new challenges for regulators. Our review integrates relevant research in three policy areas (environment, food and energy) and develops a new typology of functions performed by regulators. The article is the first to discuss how the roles and functions of regulators need to change in the contemporary information and regulatory environment. It also emphasises the importance of regulatory involvement in information-based regulation, which has traditionally been seen as a deregulatory approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-221
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Review of Administrative Sciences
Issue number2
Early online date16 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • administrative capacity
  • information-based regulation
  • regulatory state
  • smart disclosure
  • systematic review

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