Behavioural insights teams in practice: nudge missions and methods on trial

Ball and HeadSarah Ball and Brian W. Head

They go by a variety of names; nudge units, behavioural insights (BI) teams and behavioural economics teams. However, they all owe a debt to the pioneering work of the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) in the United Kingdom (UK). Based on behavioural research on the ‘irrational’ behaviours of citizens and/or policy target audiences, ‘nudge’ instruments have been tested through rigorous research in the form of randomised controlled trials. Using this approach, the BIT UK has had a significant impact on the policy innovation landscape across the globe. Teams have emerged in Europe, the US, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Australia, New Zealand and many more countries.

Our research recently published in Policy & Politics explores the BI phenomena as it emerged in Australia, from which we derive analysis relevant to global actors and governments engaged BI. In two independent exploratory studies, we sought to understand how such teams actually operate in practice. One study was an in-depth observational study of staff in the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA). The other was an interview-based study of three teams, namely, those operating in two state governments, New South Wales and Victoria, together with the Australian government’s BETA. Continue reading Behavioural insights teams in practice: nudge missions and methods on trial

Design special issue highlights collection – free to access from 31 July 2020 – 31 October 2020

Sarah BrownSarah Brown
Journal Manager, Policy & Politics

This quarter’s highlights collection brings to you a selection of articles from our incredibly popular special issue on Policymaking as designing: the added value of design thinking for public administration and public policy.

Published earlier this year, this special issue brings together a collection of papers that have taken design of public policy and administration seriously, in a variety of different and practical ways. The papers demonstrate that not only are there many examples of design approaches being implemented, but that there is much to learn about how we make the best use of these to improve public policy and administration and the design of public services. Continue reading Design special issue highlights collection – free to access from 31 July 2020 – 31 October 2020

Exploring the role of the state in the depoliticisation of UK Transport Policy: Reflections through the lens of COVID-19

Reardon and MarsdenLouise Reardon and Greg Marsden

At the height of the pandemic in the UK, the government order was to ‘stay home, protect the National Health Service, save lives’. The public were told not to travel to their place of work unless that work was essential (and couldn’t be done from home), told not to leave the house for anything but essential groceries, medication or to support the vulnerable, and in doing so advised not to travel on public transport unless there was no alternative. As a consequence travel demand plummeted: motor traffic down by 73% compared to pre-outbreak levels, rail journeys down 90%, London Underground journeys down 94%, and bus journeys in London down 83%. While the current context is very different to the one we wrote our new Policy & Politics article in, it highlights the puzzle that initially caught our attention. Continue reading Exploring the role of the state in the depoliticisation of UK Transport Policy: Reflections through the lens of COVID-19

Which audiences matter to public service organisations when managing their reputations?

Jan Boon, Jan Wynen, Koen VerhoestJan Boon, Jan Wynen and Koen Verhoest

Why do public sector organisations target different stakeholder audiences when managing their reputations? This is the question we wanted to address in our recent Policy & Politics article entitled What determines the audiences that public service organisations target for reputation management.

A basic tenet in the reputation literature is that organisations are sensitive to their environment. Different audiences (be it clients, politicians, the media and others) expect different things from public service organisations, so how do they manage such conflicting demands? How do they prioritise the needs of their audiences? Continue reading Which audiences matter to public service organisations when managing their reputations?

Blog announcement from the Policy & Politics team

P&P editorsSarah Ayres, Steve Martin and Felicity Matthews,
Co-editors of Policy & Politics

We are delighted to announce that Policy & Politics has achieved an impressive result in this year’s Journal Citation Reports with an Impact Factor of 3.069. This places the Journal in the top quartile of all public administration and the political science journals (10th out of 48 in the Public Administration category and 20th out of 160 in the Political Science category).

This fantastic outcome is testimony to the outstanding quality of research produced by our authors, the meticulous scrutiny of our peer reviewers, the hard work of the Policy & Politics and Policy Press team and the support of our Editorial and Management Boards. We would like to offer our thanks and congratulations to all.

To celebrate this increase we have made our most highly cited articles which contributed to the Impact Factor free to read until 31st August 2020. Please see the list below. Happy reading! Continue reading Blog announcement from the Policy & Politics team

Virtual issue on The changing nature of welfare

P&P editorsSarah Ayres, Steve Martin and Felicity Matthews,
Co-editors of Policy & Politics

New virtual issue from Policy & Politics: The changing nature of welfare

While Policy & Politics has always tracked debates about the changing nature of welfare globally, our need to understand the implications of such changes is proving more crucial than ever during this global pandemic.  In particular, it is clear that this pandemic will have differentiated impacts, with those who are poorer and more vulnerable more likely to be adversely affected. To help think about how these challenges can be tackled, this special collection brings together a range of insights from recent articles that consider the changing nature of welfare and what this means for welfare recipients. Continue reading Virtual issue on The changing nature of welfare

Are responses to official consultations and stakeholder surveys reliable guides to policy actors’ positions?

Karin IngoldKarin Ingold

Policy scholars are interested in the positions and preferences of politically involved actors. Those preferences can either serve as independent variables (for example, to explain coordination among or the strategic behaviour of actors), or as dependent variables (for example to evaluate actors’ coherence over time). But how do I identify these policy positions or preferences? Should I perform interviews or code the official statements of actors involved in policymaking? How valuable are my survey results in comparison to media data? These are typical questions concerning methods of data gathering and there are unlikely to be absolute answers to the question of which is the best method. However, our recent Policy & Politics article contributes to the discussion regarding these questions and is based on unique data drawn from three cases. Using these data, it compares actor statements about policies, gathered once through surveys and once through text coding official statements. Continue reading Are responses to official consultations and stakeholder surveys reliable guides to policy actors’ positions?

President Trump’s Policy Overreaction Style during Manufactured Crises

moshe maorMoshe Maor

Recently, we have witnessed deliberate constructions of migration crises, for example, by Victor Orbán, in Hungary in the period 2015–2018, and by Donald Trump, in the run-up to the U.S. 2018 midterm elections. In both cases, Orbán and Trump skillfully exploited the challenges that the general public sometimes faces in determining when a crisis begins and when a crisis is over. Furthermore, both leaders were willing to see certain threats, or at the very least the perception that there is a threat, ramped up in order to advance their political goals. They were able to step up existential warnings while taking advantage of the opportunities that arose as they determined the starting point and other temporal elements of the immigration crises they manufactured. Continue reading President Trump’s Policy Overreaction Style during Manufactured Crises

Government’s social responsibility, citizen satisfaction and trust

P&p blog authorsEran Vigoda-Gadot, Shlomo Mizrahi and Nissim Cohen

How much do we trust the government? To what degree do we feel that it has a responsibility to ensure that its citizens are healthy? Do these issues have any relationship with our satisfaction with the services the government provides?

These are important questions, particularly when we face major issues like pandemics. We know that when we trust people or institutions, we are more willing to cooperate with them, take risks, commit to them and share information with them. In contrast, when we don’t trust people or institutions, we may fear them, be defensive in our interactions with them, not cooperate with them and distort the information we give them. Continue reading Government’s social responsibility, citizen satisfaction and trust

Virtual issue on Working with citizens and changing behaviours

p&p editorsSarah Ayres, Steve Martin and Felicity Matthews,
Co-editors of Policy & Politics

New virtual issue from Policy & Politics: Working with citizens and changing behaviours

In this month’s virtual issue we showcase our latest research on the topic of the state working with citizens and changing behaviours. As governments grapple with the longer-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, invoking behavioural change will be a key measure in the easing of lockdowns and the maintenance of social distancing,  Against this backdrop, the articles below provide a series of instructive lessons. Continue reading Virtual issue on Working with citizens and changing behaviours