The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) is set to launch the Middle East’s first “nudge unit” in an effort to better understand the behavioural pattern of World Cup stakeholders such as football fans and local communities.
Formally known as the Behavioural Insights Unit (BIU), the initiative helps policy makers gain psychological insights to human behaviour, which can be used to gently steer – or ‘nudge’ – people towards better decisions without limiting their freedom of choice.
The SC will oversee the creation of a specialised BIU that is expected to influence areas of strategic interest in Qatar and the wider GCC.
Capitalising on a rapidly-growing global trend in countries such as the UK, the US, Singapore, Australia and Germany, the initiative is the first unit of its kind in the region. Incubated under the office of the Secretary General, the BIU will launch this month and leverage existing programmes, such as the Josoor Institute, to expand and experiment the impact of policy initiatives in the region.
Speaking about the project, Hassan al-Thawadi, SC Secretary General, said: “The nudge unit is aimed at achieving an understanding that human behaviour is vital in shaping the policy of an organisation. This can potentially be positively applied to an entire country and by extension, a whole region. Behavioural insights will give us the opportunity to shape policy that will impact plans for both the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the Qatar National Vision 2030.”
Economic research on this subject demonstrates that context is the most important factor influencing behaviour. Therefore, small but behaviourally informed interventions can alter behaviour and can have positive impact for individuals, organisations and society at large. Unlike traditional economics, which use models and assumptions, the main tools of behavioural economics are testing impact of small changes through Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs).
Qatar’s Nudge Unit will benchmark best practice from other nudge units around the world, learning lessons and assessing the current policy-making landscape, while focusing on stakeholders involved in similar work in order to identify key challenges and opportunities.
Al-Thawadi added: “We are looking for ways to encourage employees, stakeholders, partners and decision-makers to welcome behavioural change that ultimately has a social purpose.
“We are still at the incubation stage of this project but we are committed to targeting the right stakeholders and designing a framework that will deliver a sustainable unit capable of creating effective behavioural changes.”
Spearheaded by Dr Fadi Makki – an expert in public policy, strategy, trade and economic development – the unit is designed to explore findings from behavioural sciences that inform public policy, and enable better decisions without drastically restricting choice – in other words, it will influence with a ‘nudge’ in the right direction, not a push.
Dr Makki said: “When people have difficult decisions to make, they often revert to instinct or ‘rule of thumb’ which can be problematic. We have seen that behaviour is affected by the way choices are presented and the context within which decisions are made. Therefore, through “choice architecture”, we want to ensure delivery of a framework that gives people every opportunity to make the right choices.
“Behavioural economics is a method of analysis that applies psychological insights to human behaviour, explaining economic decision-making. More importantly, these insights give people the ability to gently steer – or ‘nudge’ – them towards better decisions without limiting their freedom of choice.”