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Professor Peter John of the Department of Political Economy at King’s College London sits down with our colleagues this May to discuss his new book, How Far to Nudge?  Join us for an insightful discussion on the history of behavioral economics and how citizens can “nudge” the nudgers back.

About the Speaker:

Peter John is Professor of Public Policy in the Department of Political Economy at King’s College London. He was previously Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University College London. He is known for his work on agenda-setting, local politics, behavioral interventions, and randomized controlled trials.

He is author of Analyzing Public Policy (2012), which reviews the main theories of public policy and the policy process. He has carried out empirical work on agenda-setting to find out why governments focus on particular policies, which is represented in the book, Policy Agendas in British Politics (Palgrave, 2013), co-authored with Anthony Bertelli, William Jennings, and Shaun Bevan. With Anthony Bertelli, he developed public policy investment as an approach to understanding decision-making, which was published as Public Policy Investment: Priority-Setting and Conditional Representation in British Statecraft (Oxford University Press, 2013).

He is interested in how best to involve citizens in public policy and management, often deploying behavioural interventions. He tests many of these interventions with randomized controlled trials. Some of these trials appeared in Nudge, Nudge, Think, Think: Experimenting with Ways to Change Civic Behaviour (Bloomsbury, 2011). Practical issues with the design of experiments are covered in Field Experiments in Political Science and Public Policy (Routledge, 2017). Experiments are also used to examine the impact of social media and politics in Political Turbulence: How Social Media Shape Collective Action (Princeton University Press, 2015), with Helen Margetts, Scott Hale and Taha Yasseri.

His current book, to be published in 2018, is a critical review of the use of behavioral public policies, called How Far to Nudge: Assessing Behavioural Public Policy (Edward Elgar).

About the Talk:

In his latest book, How Far to Nudge: Assessing Behavioural Public Policy (Edward Elgar), Peter John reviews why governments need to address citizen behaviours, conveying the origins of behavioural economics and explaining how its ideas become translated into public policies. He traces the emergence of nudge units, and gives examples of the kinds of initiatives policy-makers have introduced, such as on organ donation and improving tax collection. The many criticisms of nudge are reviewed and ethical questions are also addressed. Peter John makes the case for a more radical version of nudge, nudge plus, that takes into account the capacity for individual reflection, and which can be used by any group or citizen, even to nudge the nudgers.