Behaviour & Institutions: Behavioural Insights for Governing Societal Transitions

Effective and legitimate governance of societal transitions requires social and behavioural arrangements that facilitate local and regional ecosystems of citizens, community initiatives, service organizations, social enterprises and companies in contributing to these transitions under a shared framework of values and long-term goals.

How can institutions employ behavioural insights to facilitate societal transitions that require citizen commitment?

Appreciating the dynamics of these ecosystems calls for deep insight into human embodied processes of coordination and cooperation that allow people to make autonomous choices and, at the same time, care for each other in fostering their collective engagement with these transitions. Building on this this model of contextually embedded governance that rests on insights from behavioural science, our platform addresses the critical issue of how we can create conditions that provide citizens and civil society organizations with opportunities to shape, design, and implement innovative solutions to pressing societal challenges. In examining the legitimacy of such arrangements, the platform (1) emphasizes the profound importance of conceptualizing citizen autonomy as transcending mere opportunities for choice and (2) foregrounds perspectives for collective actionin local and regional networks of public-private partnerships. We adopt a strong but not exclusive focus on the transition towards an inclusive and sustainable society as a case that requires a rigorous analysis of how institutions - ranging from local and national governments to community initiatives, private companies and professionals in educational and social services - can significantly involve citizens with these matters.

The mission of Behaviour & Institutions is to develop a critical understanding how institutions employ behavioural insights to facilitate societal transitions for which citizen commitment is needed.

We do so by bringing together scholars and practitioners to discuss the governance of transitions with a focus on how behavioural science can furnish the design, testing and implementation of novel policy arrangements. We particularly highlight conditions that allow citizens from vulnerable groups to participate in these transitions and document the legitimacy of policy arrangements in view of citizen motivation and skills.

Behaviour & Institutions favors a multidisciplinary approach with contributions from psychology, public administration, economics, law, sociology, philosophy, and linguistics. We collaborate with societal partners to advance research that is both rigorous and relevant.

Our activities

  • .. establishing a scientific community, embedded in a network of policy makers, stakeholders and public institutions: BIN-NL, WRR. 
  • .. fostering education and knowledge dissemination at the crossroads of psychology, public administration, economics, law, sociology, philosophy, and linguistics. In doing so, transparency about behavioural data that are employed by any societal actor stands central: NIG course Behavioural Sciences & Public Policy, NSOB course Gedrag en Bestuur, Utrecht University minor Well being by design: behavioural foundations and public policy.
  • .. facilitating the formation of consortia and applications for research grants and external funding in conjunction with societal partners: VIDIGAK.