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ECPR Standing Group on the European Union 10th Biennial Conference LUISS, Rome

Behavioural Governance: Evaluation and Empirical Intelligence in Policy-Making Processes

Comparative Politics
 
Governance
 
Government
 
Policy Analysis
 
Public Administration
 
Presenter
Ferdinand Gens
Hertie School of Governance
Authors
Ferdinand Gens
Hertie School of Governance

Abstract
In recent years, several countries and international organizations have started to institutionalise the application of behavioural economics and associated empirical intelligence. This constitutes a new approach in evidence-based policy-making. The United Kingdom, USA and Germany specifically have implemented the use of behavioural insights in from of units at the heart of their government’s executive branch.
These governmental units consist of behavioural experts and policy makers who conduct or commission context-specific empirical studies that entail experiments, pilots and RCTs. Behavioural insight initiatives establish these methods despite the general reluctance among policy makers to test and experiment with policies in ex-ante evaluations. However, it is not clear how such initiatives actually change established evidence-based policy practices or to which extend e.g. RCTs become complimentary to these practices. There is no research on how the introduction and expanding of trials in the context of behavioural informed interventions affect the design of traditional policy-making tools and processes or whether, which, and how new behavioural evidence-based practices diffuse to other government institutions.
The paper looks at the role of governmental units that employ behavioural science in policy-making processes. In comparing the UK, USA and Germany it seeks answers to the question, how behavioural governance initiatives influence the application of evaluation and empirical intelligence in governments.
The paper aims at describing comparatively the policy dimension of behavioural governance by taking into account form and process of such initiatives. It is argued, that the specific polity and politics dimensions of a government’s behavioural governance structures can explain the way in which behavioural insights unfold as a new policy tool and how they change evidence-based practises. Therefore, the paper analyses the formal mandates of respective behavioural insights units and their method of operation under their specific governmental structures of policy-making processes.
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