Developing countries have limited options for increasing regulatory compliance by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). One promising approach is to allow SMEs to directly contribute to the regulatory process through Notice and Comment (N&C) Systems, potentially leading to increased compliance. Small business owners, however, often find it challenging to meaningfully engage with these systems. In this project, DCID researchers helped the Thai Government modify its N&C system to empower SME owners to provide better feedback to policymakers. The goal is to make Thailand’s regulation-making process more participatory and representative and, hopefully, lead to higher compliance and enhanced public safety.
This project aims to address three primary barriers to a successful N&C system: low quality engagement, lack of trust, and high costs—primarily through an online “Regulatory Room.” In this platform, non-government experts can help business owners improve the clarity and relevance of their comments so that policymakers can better understand and address feedback. By creating a safe, effective, third-party platform, the project hopes to increase engagement from communities that are wariest of the Government and most historically neglected in Thailand. Digitalizing the N&C system also lowers the cost for engagement and allows more individuals to be involved, given widespread access to mobile phones and internet in Thailand. The effectiveness of digital N&C systems remains largely untested, and this project aims to determine whether investing in these systems will lead to increased compliance with regulations.
Methods and Results
Prior to starting this project, different types of online training will be offered to three groups of randomly selected small and medium-sized Thai firms (plus a control group). Firms will be polled following the training to survey their perception of the N&C process. The project will track the number and quality of online comments, poll participant attitudes toward the Government once new regulations are released, and monitor ongoing compliance. When the “Regulatory Room” is launched, the project will randomize whether participants receive no feedback or tailored, representative feedback and then collect participant evaluations of the process as well as evidence of compliance.
Edmund Malesky (Duke University), Allen Hicken (University of Michigan), Songkhun Nillasithanukroh (Duke University), Markus Taussig (Rutgers University)
International Growth Centre
- Policy brief: “Can expert feedback improve SMES’ views of government’s regulatory legitimacy? Evidence from Thailand” (International Growth Centre)
- Working paper: “Digital consultation of firms and perception of government’s regulatory legitimacy: Piloting an experiment in regulation design in Thailand” (International Growth Centre)
- Piloting an experiment in regulation design in Thailand
Economic Governance, Governance, Citizen Participation, Corruption, eGovernance, Southeast Asia