Disciplinary Research Overviews for Public Policy Oriented Consumer Interest Research

Public Policy Issues and Consumer Interest Research Communications

Public policy issues related to consumer interests are often complex and come from the interplay of many factors that shape the issues. The strongest foundation for sound public policy to address these complex issues is built on research from multiple disciplines.  Better understanding will permit sharply better public policies and will produce important gains in the wellbeing of Canadian consumers.

The most reliable research on an issue comes from rigorous use of methods that have been proven in a discipline.  Research results from several disciplines (which use distinctly different analytic methods) can significantly improve the understanding of complex consumer issues.

Communication of research results across disciplines – and amongst researchers and users of the results – will boost the effectiveness and the range of consumer interest research. However, normal channels of research communications largely flow along disciplinary lines, particularly in the academic community. This hinders the sharing and application of knowledge.

Efforts to address the challenges of communicating research knowledge about consumer interests in Canada are being addressed by the Partnership for Public Policy Oriented Consumer Interest Research. This includes the provision of overviews of research by discipline.

Factors influencing public policy development

Economic factors play a large role in public policy development. Yet other factors, alone or in combination with one another, frequently and strongly influence policy decisions that affect consumers.

Some of the forces which help shape public policy issues affecting consumers include:

  • Economic
  • Social
  • Legal
  • Cultural
  • Psychological
  • Political
  • Historical
  • Environmental

The perspectives of researchers from different disciplines are often crucial for a comprehensive understanding of the causes and consequences of public policy consumer issues.  Analyses from different disciplines provide evidence that is crucial for those developing potential policies.  The understanding facilitates the development of effective new consumer-sensitive policy options useful to the private sector, public sector, and, significantly, to consumers.

The Partnership for Public Policy Oriented Consumer Interest Research

The partnership to promote public policy oriented consumer interest research was launched to increase awareness about new and ongoing research in disciplines that contribute the field. Increased awareness of research is important to those who could use research:

  • For carrying out public policy oriented consumer interest research
  • In government
  • In civil society
  • In the private sector

Disciplinary research overviews

The Partnership Public Policy Oriented Consumer Interest Research commissioned the writing of several disciplinary research overviews by leading researchers in Canada. These overviews will highlight recent research results and emerging new perspectives on important public policy consumer interest issues.

When the completed research overviews are published, they will:

  • Help foster cross-disciplinary communication
  • Ensure that recent research developments in a number of key issue areas are effectively drawn together
  • Ensure that these research developments are readily available to research users.

The following disciplinary research overviews are now available to researchers and practitioners: 

Disciplinary Research Overview Author Description
An Overview of the Behavioural Sciences for Public Policy Oriented Consumer Interest Research (PDF) by Professor Dilip Soman, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. This overview discusses the contribution of recent behavioural science research to the understanding of how individuals make decisions, particularly in the marketplace. It also explains the implications of behavioural understandings for how more effective consumer protection policy can be developed and implemented.
An Overview of Technology Law from a Public Policy Oriented Consumer Interest Research Perspective (PDF) by Professor Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa. This overview surveys what recent research tells us about how the law and jurisprudence have evolved for dealing with technology issues that impact on consumers.  In particular, the review covers issues such as:
  • consumer protection in e-commerce and online contracting
  • consumer privacy
  • redress
  • intellectual property user rights
  • spam, spyware and on line hazards
  • wireless telecommunications competition
  • internet access and net neutrality
Business Management Sciences Disciplinary Survey on the intersection of new internet/ICT business models and consumer protection (PDF) by Professor Kernaghan Webb, Department of Law and Business, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, Toronto. This overview explores recent research in the management sciences dealing with online and other related business development strategies (for example, dealing with computer and communications related services), and their implications for consumer protection issues.  The consumer protection issues surveyed include, amongst others:
  • the emergence and evolution of business-to-consumer, and consumer-to-consumer “collaborative markets” such as Craigslist, E-bay, Uber, Airbnb
  • establishing and maintaining consumer trust in online environments
  • the increasing importance and commercial value of individual consumer’s consumption information and experiential data
  • developing meaningful forms of consumer consent online

The Partnership plans to add research overviews from other disciplines and update the site regularly.

June 2015