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Home Features Nothing but nudges: behavioural economics comes of age
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PEOPLEJeremy Heywood, Rory Gallagher
DEPARTMENTSDepartment of Employment
TAGS behavioural, behavioural insights unit, BIT, economics, insights, NSW, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, nudge, science
Nudges have taken the public sector by storm, expanding all over government. One of their chief promoters around the world is confident they aren’t a passing fad, but warns against complacency and overuse.
Nudges are the next big thing in public services, and Australian public servants are among the most enthusiastic adopters of the behavioural sciences.
It’s been a bumper year for the Behavioural Insights Team, an unusual company that started life in 2010 as an appendage of the United Kingdom Cabinet Office and is now exporting nudge theory to the world. It’s set up shop in Australia, the Americas and most recently Singapore, two years since it became a business owned jointly by the UK government, staff members and Nesta, an innovation-focused charitable foundation.
Rory Gallagher, who came to work for the New South Wales government as a civil servant on secondment in 2012 to help set up Australia’s first nudge unit, is now BIT’s Asia-Pacific managing director. He still works with the NSW agency a couple of days a week and according to the report, it’s been the company’s “longest and most impactful” partnership in its brief history.
The NSW administration “took a punt, to some extent” by signing up as BIT’s first international partner, Gallagher told The Mandarin. “But they’ve done a huge amount since then; they now have a team of about a dozen people applying this across the sector.”
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Stephen Easton is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's previously reported for Canberra CityNews and worked on industry titles for The Intermedia Group.
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…now add data, lots of it, and opaque analytics, and we begin to head into uncharted waters wrt to individual agency and capacity for democratic participation. The trajectory is a given. We would do well to not blindly stumble into this future. A good start might be to check out Karen Yeung’s work on “hypernudge” is one of an all too few attempts to bring together a cross disciplinary perspective… http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2807574 & http://law.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/1880136/2016_Karen-Yeung_Big-Data-as-Hypernudge-slides.pdf
If well-established insights from psychology and sociology can become assimilated into economics by badging them ‘behavioural economics’, then it’s all to the good.