More examples of nudges in the public sector

Here’s an interesting story about the UK’s Behavioural Insights Team. With some useful examples that might make for interesting classroom cases/exercises:

As an example, Moore pointed to a program in Lexington, Ky., where there were 7,000 overdue water bills that totaled about $4 million. A nudge in this situation meant sending a mailer alerting people to their delinquency. Some of them included handwritten notes addressing recipients by name. In less than a month, the campaign resulted in the reconciliation of $139,000 in unpaid bills.

Santiago Garces, chief innovation officer of South Bend, Ind., described BIT’s work in his city as “wizardry.” Using mapping, South Bend found that homeowners in low income areas were less likely to take advantage of mortgage-related tax exemptions they were entitled to. This is, in many ways, what behavioral influence looks like at its best: A hard data study upends a presumption (in this case, that lower income families would be most likely to pursue tax breaks) and city government subsequently works to nudge a behavioral change for the good of its residents.

Nudges aren’t limited to exerting public influence. Andres Lazo, director of citizen-centered design for Gainesville, Fla., said he was working to use the idea internally, a strategy Moore had seen deployed elsewhere to encourage employees to share efficiency ideas by offering incentives like recognition and prizes.

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