2014 ACM conference
Celebrating its first anniversary, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) on Friday June 20 organized the international conference ‘Innovation in Oversight, Oversight and Innovation.’ Attendees included representatives from the corporate sector, government, academia and other regulators from around the world.
Watch the recap video of the 2014 ACM Conference on YouTube.
The opening address was delivered by Her Majesty Queen Máxima in her capacity of the UN Secretary-General's Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA). Her Majesty talked about the dilemma regulators are facing: finding the right balance between safeguarding stability and consumer protection on the one hand, and offering enough room for innovation on the other hand. She subscribed to the idea that consumer empowerment is a necessary condition for well-functioning markets.
Cass Sunstein, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, is the co-author of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, in which he argues that restrictive regulations are less effective at shaping behaviors than gentle, low-cost signals in people's environments. In his speech, Mr. Sunstein explained more about the idea of ‘nudge’. In his view, a ‘nudge’ is a policy-based push in the right direction. Together with Richard Thaler, he created the concept of ‘libertarian paternalism,’ a policy philosophy that influences people’s choices, but do not take any choices away from people. Whether it is about defaults, having individuals choose actively, or the order in which the options to choose from are presented, Mr. Sunstein believes that it is inevitable to think about ‘choice architecture’, how can certain processes be designed in such a way that people do (or are able to) make the ‘right’ choices?
William E. Kovacic
William E. Kovacic, Professor of Law and Policy at the George Washington University Law School, was the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission between 2006 and 2011. Mr. Kovacic talked about the synergies that combined authorities, like ACM, are able to achieve. He argued that market authorities must have the courage to experiment, because only then will true breakthroughs and innovation occur, which is what ACM has done by combining tasks. By combining consumer protection and competition, both the demand side as well as the supply side can be influenced. That is why he stressed the importance of having a broad portfolio of instruments.
- Watch the entire speech of William E. Kovacic
- Watch the first plenary debate between Cass R. Sunstein and William E. Kovacic
Annet Aris, adjunct professor of strategy at INSEAD and former member of the board of OPTA, presented her ideas about the influence of oversight and regulators on innovation. In her speech, Ms. Aris used the rise of technology giants such as Apple, Google and Facebook as an example. The fields in which they operate are getting bigger and more diverse, as evidenced by the constant flow of new and different products, as well as by the number of acquisitions of other (mostly adjacent) products and services. How can or should regulators react to this trend? How are regulators able to promote (or continue to promote) innovation effectively without restricting competition?
Charles Leadbeater is a renowned author, thinker and strategic adviser on innovation. He talked about the importance of new business models in innovation, and about the role that ACM could play in that process. Mr. Leadbeater sees most innovations as system innovations rather than product innovations. He is therefore in favor of “regulation as public leadership”. He believes that ACM can help society build better systems, so that, in the end, we can live better lives. ACM’s task should thus be: stimulating consumers to make things better, to give room to consumer frustrations, and to inspire people to develop new tools and technologies.
- Watch the entire speech of Charles Leadbeater
- Watch the second plenary debate between Annet Aris and Charles Leadbeater