Effective regulation under conditions of scientific uncertainty: how collaborative networks contribute to occupational health and safety regulation for nanomaterials

Aline Reichow

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

283 Downloads (Pure)


This thesis seeks to understand, and evaluate, the contribution of business associations within the United States (US) and German chemical sector, to the effective regulation of nanomaterials. In the effective regulation of new technologies characterized by high scientific uncertainty, with nanomaterials being an example of such a technology, it is useful to diverge from the traditional perspective on effective regulation. Rather than focusing on the outcome of rule compliant behavior in order to determine the effectiveness of regulation, it is more useful to investigate processes of learning that prepare for rule compliance. Associations can prepare compliance for companies with the legal obligation to conduct risk assessment for nanomaterials by making available, and extending, scientific data in collaboration with regulators. On this basis associations can develop guidance material (i.e., soft regulation) in order to support their members companies in conducting risk assessment for nanomaterials. A theoretical framework is developed that adopts three learning types: substantive learning (with the key characteristic ‘scientific expertise’), strategic learning (with the key characteristic ‘trust’), and institutional learning (with the key characteristic ‘rules’). Conditions under which these three learning types emerge are derived and used to empirically analyze and compare business association contributions to effective nanomaterials OHS regulation in two case studies: the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Nano Panel and the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI). Association collaborative activities are investigated through qualitative, semi-structured interviews with involved stakeholders and through publicly available (policy) documents supporting association activities. The empirical results indicate that the two associations have facilitated learning–to varying levels–relevant for preparing compliance of companies with existing OHS legislation. Overall, the VCI activities facilitated strong learning while the ACC Nano Panel facilitated limited learning. This thesis finds that for learning processes in collaborative activities among business associations and regulators it is important that relationships among collaborators are characterized by trust so as to facilitate knowledge exchange/generation and joint rule development. To prevent capture of public regulators, it is recommended that an independent body, responsible for identifying and communicating the goals of the involved actors, oversees the collaboration. Suitable bodies are federal research institutes.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Dorbeck-Jung, Barbel R., Supervisor
  • Groenendijk, Nicolaas Stijn, Advisor
  • Dorbeck-Jung, Bärbel, Supervisor, External person
  • Groenendijk, Nico, Advisor
Award date10 Jun 2015
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-3871-8
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2015


  • METIS-310594
  • IR-95996

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Effective regulation under conditions of scientific uncertainty: how collaborative networks contribute to occupational health and safety regulation for nanomaterials'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this