Regulators' Role in Addressing "Wicked Problems"

Administration, Regulatory Reform,

In this Journal of Medical Regulation article by Zubin Austin and Aly Haji, the authors discuss how regulators may be specially adapted to address wicked problems - problems that, by nature, are difficult or impossible to solve, such as those around climate change, AI, and social inequities. "As regulators contemplate their futures and consider environmental risks and opportunities, wicked problems will form the context and scaffolding for regulatory work in years to come. This applies not only to the solutions developed to address wicked problems but also to the strategies and processes implemented to develop those solutions."  "[T]here are notable features of regulatory bodies that make them specially adapted to addressing wicked problems:

  • Regulatory bodies are the only entity within a profession that binds every individual professional.
  • Regulatory bodies have significant levers of influence.
  • Regulators can incorporate scientific consensus and evidence-based outcomes into administrative, legal, and political processes.
  • Regulators can use policy, procedure, and regulation as tools to smooth out political swings and polarization."

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