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OBHDP Special Issue on Nudges and Choice Architecture in Organizations

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Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (OBHDP) is Announcing a Special Issue on Nudges and Choice Architecture in Organizations


Katherine L. Milkman, University of Pennsylvania (Managing Guest Editor)
Gretchen Chapman, Rutgers University
David Rand, Yale University
Todd Rogers, Harvard University
Richard H. Thaler, University of Chicago


The 2008 publication of the best-selling book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein sparked enormous interest in how choice architecture and nudges can be used to improve outcomes in organizations. Policymakers inside and outside of government are scrambling to master new nudging strategies to improve the decisions of citizens, employees and customers. At least 51 countries now boast “centrally directed policy initiatives” influenced by behavioral science, or so-called “nudge-units,” and many Fortune 500 companies are opening similar divisions. A recent review article highlighted the extraordinary cost-effectiveness of nudges relative to other levers of influence (e.g., incentives, rules, educational campaigns) that are typically used by policymakers inside and outside of organizations to influence behavior (Benartzi et al., 2017). However, in spite of the growing applied interest in using nudging as a policy too!
l, far more field research is needed on what nudges and choice architecture strategies work best to change behavior in organizations. This special issue is meant to (a) publish (future) seminal papers testing the efficacy of nudges and choice architecture through field experiments in organizations and (b) substantially accelerate and shape the direction of academic research in this area.


Appropriate papers should present field experiments (alone or in combination with laboratory experiments) that explore the efficacy of nudging and choice architecture in organizations. By “field experiment”, we mean a study with random assignment of participants to conditions and participants who engaged in the tasks under study in an environment where they naturally undertake these tasks. We are most interested in experiments (a) whose outcomes are measures of actual behavior (rather than self-report), (b) that include participants who are not MTurk workers, undergraduates in a laboratory, or survey panelists from services like Qualtrics and ClearVoice, and (c) that were conducted in real-world organizational settings. We adopt the following definition of a nudge: nudges “aim to change ‘people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, [an]…intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates’ (Thaler & Sunstein, 2008). Nudges do not impose material costs but instead alter the underlying ‘choice architecture,’ for example by changing the default option to take advantage of people’s tendency to accept defaults passively. Nudges stand in contrast to traditional policy tools, which change behavior with mandates or bans or through economic incentives (including significant subsidies or fines).” (Benartzi et al., 2017)

We particularly seek manuscripts that have several of the following features: introduce new tools of choice architecture, shed light on important ongoing debates in the literature, yield important new empirical or theoretical insights about previously-studied nudges, are of policy importance, or open up promising directions for future research.

An illustrative, but not exhaustive list of topics that fall within the scope of this special issue is provided below:

1. Field validation and testing of nudges or choice architecture techniques in organizations that have previously only been tested in the laboratory or in limited field contexts.
2. Field validation and testing of novel, untested nudges or choice architecture techniques in organizations.
3. Comparisons of effect sizes or cost effectiveness of multiple nudges and/or economic levers related to managerially relevant outcomes.
4. Field results that shed light on novel mechanisms underlying nudges or choice architecture

To learn more or submit a manuscript, visit http://tinyurl.com/obhdp-nudge


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