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

Ethics of the ‘Nudge’ in the Public Sector: A Systematic Review

Political Psychology
Public Administration
Leno Saarniit
Tallinn University of Technology
Piret Tõnurist
Tallinn University of Technology

Behavioral public administration is picking up steam. There are increasingly more 'behavioral units' in traditional public administrations and more-and-more behaviorally-aware policy instruments are used to tackle complex social issues. In the midst of the growing enthusiasm for behavioral experiments both in public administration scholarship and practice, there are some voices that raise the issue of changing power and control relationship between the rulers and the ruled these governance techniques seem to enforce. However, on a broader scale it is not clear if the 'ethics of the nudge' are given enough attention in public administration scholarship. This paper tries to build a state of the art in terms of the ethics of the nudge in the public sector relying on systematic review of literature covering the application of behavioral techniques in the public sector. In the review, we hypothesize that different governance traditions and backgrounds of scholars (in terms of discipline) will influence the way in which scholars approach and discuss the ethics of the nudge in the public sector.
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