Show/hide main menu

Dr Henry Rothstein

Dr Henry Rothstein

Henry-RothsteinReader in Risk and Regulation

Deputy Director, King's Centre for Risk Management

Tel:  +44 (0)20 7848 1123 

Department of Geography 
King's College London 
Office: Bush House North East Wing, Room 6.04


Henry Rothstein is a Reader in Risk and Regulation and is Deputy Director of the King's Centre for Risk Management.

He has a BSc in natural science from Bristol University, and an MSc and D.Phil in Science and Technology Policy Studies, from the Science Policy Research Unit, Sussex University. Before coming to King’s in 2006, he held a series of ESRC Research Fellowships at Brunel University and the ESRC Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation at the London School of Economics. 

Research interests
  • international and sectoral comparative analysis of risk regulation and governance
  • political economy and philosophy of risk regulation
  • risk-based regulation
  • regulatory transparency, accountability and public participation

Henry Rothstein has interdisciplinary research interests that have broadly concerned the institutional factors that shape the way that risk governance develops, works and fails within the public and private sectors and across policy domains and countries. His current research project examines the use of big data for improving health care quality regulation across the world (BMJQ&S 2016; Health, Risk and Society 2016). That project builds on one aspect of his last research project (HowSAFE) which examined the patterned uptake of risk-based approaches to governance across Europe (Socio-Economic Review 2017; Regulation and Governance 2013) with a particular focus on the underlying norms and accountability structures of different national polities. The novelty and potential explanatory power of that insight was recognized by the award in 2012 of a prestigious ESRC-Open Research Area grant with an approximate total value of £1.1m shared with collaborators at the universities of Bielefeld, Sciences-Po and Maastricht.

That research project builds on his novel theoretical insight into the relationship between risk and governance (see Economy and Society 2006). That theory of risk colonization suggests that the increasing importance of risk to governance is driven less by a new distribution of ills in society, than by a new distribution of ills in governance; in particular, the need for governance systems, to account for the limits of their own success. He has examined different aspects of the theory and its applications in a number of different sectoral and organisational contexts (e.g. Health, Risk and Society 2006Environment International 2006 and Journal of Risk Research 2013), including a one year research project funded by Defra on Risk in Policy-Making. An article from that research (Public Administration 2012) was the first to explain the emergence of, and factors shaping, risk-based approaches to policy making in central government and was commended by the 2012 Haldane prize jury for papers published in Public Administration in 2012.

Prior to that research, he worked with Christopher Hood and Rob Baldwin in developing the innovative concept of a risk regulation regime as a unit of analysis for describing and explaining regulatory variety across a range of risk policy domains. That research culminated in a widely cited book,The Government of Risk 2001, which was translated into Spanish. 

He has extended that research on risk regulation regimes in a number of ways. Drawing on this early research on the role and character of science in managing technological innovation and risk (e.g. Science, Technology and Human Values 1999 and Journal of Risk Research 2003), he has explored how risk perceptions within bureaucracies can be institutionally modulated in ways that adversely shape policy practice and result in regulatory failure (see Health, Risk and Society 2003). He has also  examined the institutional problems of reforming risk governance regimes through greater openness and participation (e.g. Public Administration 2004Law and Policy 2005Science, Technology and Human Values 2007). That research culminated in a decade-long longitudinal analysis of how participative processes are mitigated in practice by organisational adaptations over time that can filter and reinterpret participation in ways that fit with institutionalised values, beliefs and worldviews of science-based policymaking (Journal of Risk Research 2013).


ROTHSTEIN, H (PI), Demeritt, D (co-I). Can big data improve healthcare quality regulation? An international comparative analysis. 2018-2019. Wellcome Trust Seed Award, £92,996.00

ROTHSTEIN, H (PI); Demeritt, D (Co-I) (2013-16) How States Account for Failure in Europe (HowSAFE): Risk and the Limits of Governance Economic and Social Research Council - Open Research Area for the Social Sciences Programme, £386,110 

Fulop, N (PI), ROTHSTEIN, H (co-I) et al (2007-12) NIHR Research Centre for NHS Patient Safety & Service QualityNational Institute for Health Research, £4.6 million.

ROTHSTEIN, H (PI); Fairman, R (co-I) (2007-08) Risk in Policy-Making UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), £80,000. 

PhD topics
  • Comparative analysis of risk governance regimes 
  • Risk as an organising concept of modernity 
  • Participative risk governance 

Prospective students interested in working in these areas should contact Henry Rothstein with a CV and precis of a research proposal.

PhD students

PhD Students


Chris Bennett 
Managing and prioritising action in relation to multiple perceived risks affecting the self and others: a study of factors contributing to the incidence of adverse events in acute hospitals  (2007 - , p/t)

Philip Hendy 
Integrating Risk Management: A Regulatory Perspective  (2012 - )

David Self 
Risk Regulation in the EU: The Case of Food Safety (2011 - )

Sam Tang 
Organisational Cultures and Behaviours of Climate Change Policymaking (2011 - ) 

PhD Students (completed)


Dr Roger Miles 

Coping strategies for regulatory risk in UK banking; the creation of Chief Risk Officers

Dr Kati Orru 
Europeanising risk regulation: Drinking water safety in Estonia and Lithuania 

Dr Kristian Krieger 
Putting Varieties of Risk-Based Governance into Institutional Context: The Case of Flood Management Regimes in Germany and England in the 1990s and 2000s 

Dr Jennifer O’Connor 
Tilting at windmills? Exploring the pharmaceutical industry's 'crisis of trust’


MSc/MA Risk Analysis (Programme Director) 
Risk Management 
Risk Governance 
Practising Social Research 2 

Environmental Risk, Governance & Society (3rd year) 
Researching Geography (2nd year)

Impact, innovation and outreach

Together with other colleagues in the King’s Centre for Risk Management, Henry Rothstein’s fundamental theoretical and empirical research has contributed to understanding and shaping contemporary risk-based reforms to regulation across the public sector in the UK.


Henry Rothstein has provided consultancy advice on risk and regulation for a number of government and international organisations, which include: 

The UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), 2006; 
Global Water Partnership, Chile, 2002; 
UK National Audit Office, 2000; and 
The Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry, 2000 

Editorial boards

Journal of Risk Research 
Health, Risk and Society 


For a full list of Dr Rothstein's publications, plese visit his research profile.


Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2018 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454