Nudge, Nudge

In the world of apparatchiks and backroom boys where the political parties find their leaders, there is usually a hot idea or ideas. These come in waves, obviously. Not long ago, nudging was a big thing. The idea came from Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s book Nudge. Downing Street set up an in-house nudge unit. Don’t laugh – even if you’re old enough to imagine Frankie Howerd apologising for having nudged your unit. The nudge unit, whose official title is the Behavioural Insights Team, was so successful that it attracted the highest, most meaningful, most irrevocable honour in our modern democracy: it was privatised. Instead of being owned just by the state, it is now also owned by its employees, and by the soi-disant ‘innovation charity’ Nesta. Public bodies who want advice on nudging now have to pay for the privilege. The nudge unit talks about its victories as follows: Behavioural insights interventions are usually simple, highly cost-effective, and often yield surprising results. ….[READ]