Changing behaviour, one nudge at a time

Nederlandse versie

How can we make the right decisions as individuals and groups in an increasingly dynamic and complex world? It’s a big question for a 2-hour session, but that was the point of this UMIO Breakfast Booster, to concentrate all the key ingredients of people, ideas, academic expertise and motivation into one dynamic infusion to gain relevant insights which can be applied to the challenges faced in real-life work situations. Not forgetting, of course, the other essential ingredients on offer, coffee and croissants.

Sowing the seed

The event took place on Thursday 9 May at the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo. A perfect setting for the creative juices to start flowing. It was the first session UMIO has delivered in cooperation with Venlo’s campus where the focus is on healthy food & nutrition, future farming and bio-circular economy. The experts leading the session were, Dr Thomas Post, Assistant Professor of Finance at SBE and Pieter Verhallen, a PhD student in the Marketing Supply Chain Management Department at SBE. The 45 participants of this Booster session represented a diverse mix of entrepreneurs and professionals from local companies, SMEs and government institutions.

Effective nudges

The participants learned how effective nudges can be used to positively stimulate customer behavior. A large part of human behavior is not rational but is driven by “bias”. Although understanding “biases” is very important in order to avoid them, it is often a challenge to implement remedies and solutions within organisations. Whereas applying substantial changes can quickly create strong resistance, nudging is like a quiet, almost imperceptible guide, gently moving us to a more positive way of behaving.

Participants were given more insight into how they can choose effective nudges and through group workshops and dynamic presentations, they learned how to apply these in their own services and organisational processes to positively stimulate customer behavior. Thomas Post and Pieter Verhallen showed how Behavioural Screening works to make the right choices for nudges at the right time in a process. As a result of this, a specific goal can be achieved and applied as effectively as possible.

In keeping with the focus and ethos of the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo, one of the examples the group discussed, was food, and how we can use Behavioural Screening to encourage people to eat in a healthier way. It is a known fact that you should never go food shopping when you’re hungry because you’re more likely to buy all the wrong sorts of food. Within a workplace or school setting, for example, what if instead of going to buy your lunch at lunchtime, and smelling the fries being cooked, you can pre-order your lunch in the morning, before you’re hungry, then you are more likely to order a healthy meal option. Through the use of a behavioural screening ‘trick’, in this example, a pre-commitment device, results showed that healthy food consumption roughly doubled.

A recipe for success?

“I think it was a win-win” agreed Dr Thomas Post. “There was a high level of engagement and I think they had fun”. Pieter Verhallen commented that everyone came to the event very open-minded and whilst most of them hadn’t come across the nudging ideas before, it didn’t matter, they all came up with ideas and were able to take away practical outcomes and begin thinking about how they can apply the knowledge to their own professional challenges.

Do you want to tackle your challenges through nudging?

Do you feel a need to address the professional challenges within your organisation through nudging? We don’t only offer research knowledge, we also help businesses to actively apply knowledge in order to create effective solutions. In case you are interested in a chat about the potential of nudging, please contact:

Gordon Miesen 
Manager Business Development & Client Relations at UMIO

or approach one of our nudging experts:

Dr. Thomas Post 
Assistant Professor Finance, Maastricht University School of Business and Economics

Pieter Verhallen
PhD-student Marketing & Supply Chain Management, Maastricht University School of Business and Economic