Consumer Engagement in Regulation: Panacea or Paralysis?
Dr. Mark Jamison's Presentation for Australian Competition and Consumer Commission annual conference
July 25 - 26, 2013
Does customer involvement in regulation improve outcomes? Not always, according to PURC Director Mark Jamison. Speaking at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission annual conference in Brisbane, Australia, Dr. Jamison explained that the key question is, "Who do we expect to change when regulators and customers engage?" Most discussion on customer engagement is about customers informing regulators about customer preferences and utility practices. Learning by regulators is important, but so are the building legitimacy, ensuring regulator integrity, and engaging in adaptive learning that are largely about changing customers. An over emphasis on changing regulators can result in pandering to current norms, which hinders institutional strengthening and adaptive work.
There were 400 people at the conference: Four were U.S. academics, one was a U.S. consumer advocate, and the rest were non-U.S. industry, regulators, and academicians.