Nudging and the application of behavioral insights are relatively new levers for addressing public policy challenges. The rise of these concepts to prominence has been driven by a growing recognition of behavioral economics as a field of study, thanks in large part to the research and writings of pioneers like Cass Sunstein and Nobel Prize in Economics laureates Daniel Kahneman (2002) and Richard Thaler (2017). As a result, nudge units and behavioral insights initiatives have been spreading around the world. Initially, the set-up of nudge units started in governments, as with the UK’s Behavioral Insights Team in 2010, but has recently expanded to academia, NGOs and social purpose companies. These teams have been running hundreds of field experiments over the last few years, many in joint settings involving governments and other stakeholders, mainly academia, and often relying on randomized controlled trials (RCTs) – the golden standard of behavioral economics – to test “what works” in policies.
In the Middle East, the wide use of behavioral insights will undoubtedly spread beyond governments and academia to organizations and private sector institutions, tackling some of their policy challenges that stem from behavioral roots. Indeed, injections of behavioral insights will be seen across plans, strategies, policies, and procedures.