M-RCBG Senior Fellow-Led Study Group: Stephen Gibson

Thursday, February 8, 4:15-5:45pm 
M-RCBG Conference Room (Belfer-102)

Regulations can have huge impacts on businesses, individuals and society in general. Impact assessments (IAs) of government regulatory policy proposals set out their expected costs, benefits and risks and who is likely to face those impacts. In the UK, primary legislation can confer powers on Government ministers and other bodies to enact Statutory Instruments (SIs) and other secondary legislation. Because SIs have the same effect as Acts of Parliament, but face significantly less scrutiny, there has been a trend to increase the use of this mechanism for areas of policy or principle, rather than purely administrative procedures. This trend has implications for democratic accountability and the different timing and treatment of primary and secondary legislation also has important implications for the way impact assessments are carried out. 

This study group will explore the impact of a compound (primary and secondary) approach to introducing legislation, and consider the implications for estimating their expected impacts in an IA - particularly when the assessment of the secondary measure happens after some of the uncertainty related to the possible outcomes of the primary measure has been resolved and this can be taken into account in the secondary decision(s). We will discuss the limitations of the conventional NPV-based approach to assessing the impacts of compound measures and discuss the use of a real options approach to IAs to address this concern.  Primary legislation creates the opportunity but not the obligation to pursue secondary measures and should be assessed taking these future options into account.   

Stephen Gibson is Chair to the UK Regulatory Policy Committee (which scrutinises the Impact Assessments of UK regulations) and a Senior Fellow of the Mossavar-Rahmani School of Business and Government and has developed this exciting new and innovative approach to analysing the impacts of regulatory proposals with Dr. Jonathan Cave from the University of Warwick. Their recent paper: 

This study group / discussion is open to all. Registration is not necessary.

M-RCBG welcomes individuals with disabilities to participate in its programs. To request accommodations or ask questions about access provided, please email: mrcbg@hks.harvard.edu

Stephen Gibson head shot, dark suit jacket, white shirt, dark tieStephen Gibson is an expert in UK regulation and regulatory economics with over 25 years’ experience of leading major economic and regulation projects across the aviation, rail, water, telecoms, postal, broadcasting and ports sectors.  Stephen is Chair of the UK government’s Regulatory Policy Committee which independently scrutinises the evidence and analysis underpinning government regulatory measures and verifies the costs to business of government regulation. In 2011 he set up SLG Economics, an economics consultancy providing expert competition and regulatory economics advice to government, regulators and regulated companies. From 2011 until 2017 he ran the Regulators’ Forum to update UK economic regulators on developments in regulatory economics and regulatory policy. Stephen has been a member of the Civil Aviation Authority’s expert panel since 2019, providing advice on the regulation of Heathrow and NATS. He has regularly appeared on TV and Radio, being interviewed about regulatory developments particularly in the postal sector. Stephen has been Chief Economist and Director of Economic Policy at Postcomm, Interim Chief Economist at Ofwat, Principal Economist at Ofcom, Head of Economics at Network Rail, and a special advisor on regulation to the Office of Rail Regulation and the CAA. He was a lecturer at City University, London on their MSc in Competition and Regulation and has lectured for over 15 years at Birkbeck University on their MSc in Applied Economics. He has run training courses in regulatory and competition economics for Ofwat, ORR, the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator and the Department for Transport. Stephen has an MA in Economics and Management Studies from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and has postgraduate qualifications in Computer Science (Cambridge University), Accounting and Finance (ACCA), EU Competition Law (Kings College London), Health Economics (Middlesex University) and Corporate Finance (London Business School). He was the external supervisor for a PhD in rail regulation at Cambridge University and has published articles on regulation, rail charging and postal economics in leading academic books and journals. As an M-RCBG Senior Fellow, Stephen will be researching the regulatory framework used by Government departments and sectoral regulators to introduce new regulations in the UK. His faculty sponsor is Jason Furman, Professor of the Practice of Economic Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Email: stephengibson@hks.harvard.edu