Why nudges fail and other puzzles: insights from research on commitment devices

manu savaniManu Savani 

Having just read the new special issue and accompanying blog series published by Policy & Politics entitled Beyond nudge: advancing the state-of-the-art of behavioural public policy and administration, I was inspired to respond to some of the arguments mooted.

The question of why we find behaviour change resolutions difficult to stick to has long been the subject of debate and research. It is familiar territory at this time of year as we contemplate new year’s resolutions. Knotty inter-temporal choices can be affected by present bias, where we focus on short-term gains rather than the long-term payoffs. Commitment devices – any voluntary strategy we use to influence our future decisions and achieve our goals – have shown promise in addressing present bias. These strategies can rely on financial stakes, as shown by the stickK approach, which reports having $51 million on the line across 527,000 individual commitments. Continue reading

New editorial statement for the Policy & Politics journal

P&P 2021 EditorsOscar Berglund, Claire Dunlop and Chris Weible

Policy & Politics is a world-leading journal that provides the primary outlet for scholars and reflexive practitioners to engage with the most pressing governance challenges inhibiting the continued advancement in the study of public policy and its practice. These challenges span the globe and link communities in a common struggle to realise and sustain human dignity and quality of life for all. Moreover, they entail questions about: the impact on governance of political inequality and economic inequality; the implications of such inequalities on political voice and who receives help and who faces barriers from our public policies; how we advance knowledge about public policies comparatively as global phenomena; how we link across macro and micro scales within and between countries in understanding public policy and politics; advancing our theories and methodologies to address these challenges as a policy community; and bringing together a public policy research community that is interconnected globally but also sometimes siloed in distinct approaches and assumptions. Continue reading

Policy & Politics: Serving and Enhancing our Metacommunities

Oscar Berglund, Claire Dunlop and Christopher M. Weible

In the study of ecological systems, there is a concept called metacommunities. The idea is that a species might be dispersed in different yet interconnected communities.  These metacommunities might emerge and grow for reasons of fit, space, survival, or chance.  These metacommunities interconnect through some species traversing between them either rarely or habitually. Over time metacommunities might also evolve and adapt to their particular niches. For those who care about supporting ecological systems that might be dispersed in interconnected niches, metacommunities provide a broad language and perspective to help visualize, understand, and govern.

As editors for Policy & Politics, we view this metaphor of metacommunities apt for describing the broadly defined field of public policy, which is dispersed in many communities, each with their own research approaches, lexicons, and traditions.  We also see that some scholars navigate between communities more than others.   In describing academia, we often refer to these metacommunities as silos where some silos are more isolated or connected than others as well as some silos existing within other silos.  Similar to metacommunities, silos might emerge and grow as scholars search for space to develop their ideas, self-sort with others of similar orientations, and more. Continue reading