Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

The Behavioral Insights for Government (BIG) lecture series is a new initiative that brings to policymakers the practical lessons from behavioral economics and public administration. It is sponsored by the La Follette School of Public Affairs and the Behavioral Research Insights Through Experiments (BRITE) Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

La Follette School Director Don Moynihan and Justin Sydnor, an associate professor in the Department of Risk and Insurance at the Wisconsin School of Business, are coordinating the series.

Linos Elizabeth 231 px

Tuesday, March 7, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Behavioral Insights for Government: Lessons from the U.S. and the U.K.
Elizabeth Linos, PhD, vice president and head of research and evaluation, The Behavioural Insights Team North America
City County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Room 351 - View presentation

How can behavioral science be used to improve government outcomes? Elizabeth Linos talks about her practical experience in using experiments to improve public sector performance in the United Kingdom and United States.

Linos' research centers on how to improve government performance, with a specific focus on recruiting, retaining, and motivating public servants. She has led a series of projects on city-level innovation as part of the "What Works Cities" initiative as well as organizational behavior projects with police officers, teachers, social workers, and other civil servants.

Linos, who holds a doctorate in public policy from Harvard University, is vice president and head of research and evaluation at BIT North America. She previously worked as a policy adviser to Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and in research and design with the Poverty Action Lab in Bangladesh, France, and Morocco.

james oliver 231pxWednesday, April 5, noon to 1 p.m. 

How do Citizens Use Performance Data? Evidence from the UK
Oliver James, PhD, professor of political science, University of Exeter, UK
City County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Room 354

Oliver James will share his research on how citizens and service-users understand and react to performance data about their government, especially to inform political voice and user choice of public services. Evidence from the United Kingdom and internationally reveals that the narrow rational information-processing perspective is inadequate.

A series of survey and field experiments show that citizens do pay attention to public performance data; although, citizens' cognitive processing, context, and political identities affect how data is accessed and used.

Citizens blame public managers and politicians much more in response to information about below-average performance than they give credit in response to information about positive performance. Agency self-reports of good performance also tend to be less credible than independent sources.

Resigning performance information systems with these factors in mind is needed to bring about the hoped-for improvements in performance that rational models predict from better public availability of information.

James completed his doctorate at the London School of Economics, University of London. 

Guszcza Jim 231 pxTuesday, April 18, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Combining Data and Behavioral Science for Smarter Public Sector Decisions
Jim Guszcza, PhD, U.S. chief data scientist, Deloitte Consulting
Madison Public Library, 3rd floor

Data-driven decision making (“playing Moneyball”) and choice architecture (“Nudge”) are different ways of enabling smarter decisions and choices. However, the two approaches are typically discussed in isolation, providing few clues about how they can complement one another in practice.

A former Wisconsin School of Business faculty member, Guszcza will sketch a framework in which data science and applied behavioral science are two parts of a greater whole. Case studies (realized, in-progress, and hypothetical) in child support, unemployment insurance, and return to work domains will be discussed to illustrate the framework.

Guszcza, who has a doctorate in the philosophy of science from the University of Chicago, has extensive experience applying predictive analytics techniques in a variety of public- and private-sector domains. He has also spearheaded Deloitte’s use of behavioral nudge tactics to more effectively act on model indications and prompt behavior change.

In January 2017, Guszcza participated in the Institute for Research on Poverty's seminar series, when he spoke about Linking Data Science and Behavioral Science to Build Better Poverty Policy with Wisconsin School of Business Associate Professor Justin Sydnor. Watch the presentation online