The Department was delighted to host nearly 40 international delegates to its International Workshop for Behavioural Sciences and Urban-Rural Development in Developing Countries. The workshop, organised by Professor Helen Bao and Professor Colin Lizieri and assisted by Departmental doctoral students, marked the culmination of a research programme jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the National Science Foundation of China examining behavioural interventions and nudge policies for financial market development in China.
Delegates included government officials, academics, post-doctoral researchers and postgraduate students from a wide range of countries and backgrounds, from eleven countries and four continents, with interests ranging across economic development, regional policy, planning, housing, infrastructure, management and marketing. The participants worked in groups, learning from each other’s experience and perspectives, explored exercises and experiments that illustrated key behavioural principles and listened to expert lectures and case studies on behavioural interventions and their applications in public policy. These set out the concepts behind the interventions, considered research on their application and discussed ethical and policy applications. Topics covered included prospect theory, nudge theory, herding behaviour, the role of sentiment and social preferences.
The lessons from the Workshop were drawn together by each of the eight groups presenting their ideas on how a behavioural intervention could be used to help meet a policy aim. The presentations covered topics as diverse as encouraging electric vehicle uptake in Africa, promoting healthy eating habits in East Asia and supporting pregnant women and new mothers in the labour markets in Asia and South America. These provoked lively debate and helped illustrate the complexities in designing and implementing behavioural interventions in practice.
We finished with a formal farewell dinner in the Hall at Newnham College where the College’s principal, Alison Rose, made closing remarks and presented certificates to the participants. We are very grateful to Newnham for their support and the use of their conference facilities for the Workshop. Feedback from delegates has been strongly positive: over 90% of the participants responding rated their overall experience as excellent with many expressions of gratitude:
“This is a very wonderful workshop, which makes me have a deeper understanding of policy making and behavioral psychology in government work. At the same time, I am honored to meet Professor Helen and to meet new friends. It made this trip worthwhile! Thanks a lot!”
“I was exposed to various cultures and perspectives while learning something new. Helen, Colin and John are amazing people which made me more humble and grateful for meeting them.”
“I enjoyed everything. The organization, the lectures, games, group work”
See some photos of the Workshop below.
All photos are credited to Prof John Glasscock.
Getting to know your group