Caught in quicksand? Compliance and legitimacy challenges in using regulatory sandboxes to manage emerging technologies

Walter Johnson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Regulatory sandboxes have become the latest development in regulatory reform, starting first in financial regulation and now expanding to other sectors. While sandboxes offer notable potential benefits for managing emerging technologies, achieving desirable policy outcomes with this novel regulatory instrument also comes with technical and political challenges. This article offers a framework to characterize regulatory sandboxes in any sector, involving a blend of (1) approval regulation with broad-based standards, (2) restricted discretion by the regulator for specific norms, (3) process-oriented regulation, (4) an outcomes-orientation, and (5) structured regulator–regulatee information sharing or dialogue. Using this model, the article outlines issues in compliance and legitimacy, including in trust and accountability, responsive enforcement, the politics of participation, and post-sandbox oversight. The article concludes by calling for greater scrutiny when considering implementing a sandbox instrument, with attention to sector-specific concerns, and offering directions for empirical evaluation of regulatory sandboxes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)709-725
    JournalRegulation and Governance
    Issue number17
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

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