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Politics, regulation and heritage management

What does protecting our environmental and cultural heritage have in common with spying on terrorists, or seeking to improve airline safety?

“Similar political and organisational challenges”, according to Honorary Research Fellow, Malcolm Cooper, in his article, ‘Protecting our past: political philosophy, regulation and heritage management in England and Scotland’, published online this month by the journal, ‘The Historic Environment: Policy & Practice’.

PhD student Cooper was asked to write the piece as background to an earlier paper of the same name, which appeared in the first volume of the journal and has become its most popular download.

Socio-political challenges

The stimulus for the paper was a course on the strategic management of regulatory and enforcement agencies, which Cooper attended - alongside secret service employees, police, airline safety officials, environmental and cultural resource managers - at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Management in October 2008.

“Whilst our work appeared at first sight to have little in common,” says Cooper, “it rapidly became clear that the political and organisational challenges of being a regulator were surprisingly similar.

“Regulation was difficult, politically-charged, misunderstood and frequently misrepresented by the media.”

The impact of socio-political forces on heritage regulation is significant, Cooper argues, challenging the view that it remains under the control of heritage regulators and improves year on year.

Malcolm Cooper

Honorary Research Fellow

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