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How Far to Nudge?

Assessing Behavioural Public Policy Peter John, Department of Political Economy, King’s College London, UK
This book addresses the wave of innovation and reforms that has been called the nudge or behavioural public policy agenda, which has emerged in many countries since the mid-2000s. Nudge involves developing behavioural insights to solve complex policy problems, such as unemployment, obesity and the environment, as well as improving the delivery of policies by reforming standard operating procedures. It reviews the changes that have taken place, in particular the greater use of randomised evaluations, and discusses how far nudge can be used more generally in the policy process. The book argues that nudge has a radical future if it develops a more bottom up approach involving greater feedback and more engagement with citizens.
Extent: c 192 pp
Hardback Price: $110.00 Web: $99.00
Publication Date: March 2018
ISBN: 978 1 78643 054 0
Availability: Not yet published
Paperback Price: $39.95 Web: $31.96
Publication Date: March 2018
ISBN: 978 1 78643 056 4
Availability: Not yet published
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  • Politics and Public Policy
  • Public Administration and Management
  • Public Policy
Behavioural public policies, or nudges, have become increasingly popular in recent years, with governments keen to use light-touch interventions to improve the success of their public policies. In this unique book, Peter John explores nudges, their successes and limitations, and sets out a bold manifesto for the future of behavioural public policy.

This book traces the beginnings of nudge in behavioural economics and tracks the adoption of its core ideas by policy-makers, providing examples of successful applications. By considering the question ‘how far to nudge?’, John reviews why it is crucial for governments to address citizen behaviours, and reviews the criticisms of nudge and its ethical limitations. Looking to its future, this book proposes the adoption of a radical version of nudge, nudge plus, involving increased feedback and more engagement with citizens.

How Far to Nudge? will be a vital text for students of behavioural public policy and policy analysis, as well as for anyone looking for an introduction to nudge policy and an explanation for its growth in popularity.
‘There are few people better placed to capture the complex interactions between behavioural science and public policy research than Peter John. This timely book will help both academics and policy-makers understand better the scientific, ethical, and practical issues arising from the continuing growth of behavioural public policy applications.’
Liam Delaney, University College Dublin, UK

‘Peter John is a relatively rare breed – a political scientist working in the burgeoning field of behavioural public policy. In this new book, he takes the reader on a journey, in discussing how the field has developed, its limitations and the ethical challenges that it faces. Ultimately, John reveals himself to be a strong proponent of a principal aspect of behavioural public policy – i.e. so-called nudges – and yet, interestingly, advocates for nudges to be supplemented by approaches that encourage deliberative consideration by those targeted for behaviour change. This, he defines, as nudge plus.’
– Adam Oliver, The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

‘This is an important book on how governments and others can affect the behavioural habits fundamental to addressing many contemporary policy challenges. Particularly valuable is the argument that nudge involves not just choice architecture and social messaging but a reform of political institutions and bureaucracies. The promotion of self-reinforcing and beneficial behaviours, including by an “agent-centred” version of nudge, is expertly illustrated through a range of cases from Professor John and others’ research. Overall, the book makes a powerful case for “nudge plus”as a more open, reflective and decentralised form of nudging.’
– Oliver James, University of Exeter, UK
Contents 1. Introduction 2. Behavioural Public Problems 3. The Behavioural Revolution in the Social Sciences 4. Nudge: All Tools are Informational Now 5. Translating Nudge into Practice: Routes to Innovation 6. Is Nudge All It’s Cracked Up to Be? Limitations and Criticisms 7. The Ethics of Nudge 8. Nudge Plus and How To Get There 9. Assessing Behavioural Public Policy References Index