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Brokering behaviour change: the work of behavioural insights experts in government

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A behavioural insights community has emerged within a growing number of governments. While this community helps to make policies more behavioural science based, its frontstage role models tend to assume a straightforward, instrumental and apolitical view of the science–policy relationship that seems unrealistic. This article therefore examines what goes on backstage in this community, based on an ethnographic study of behaviour experts in Dutch central government. The article argues that their work consists of a complex palette of practices (that is, choice architecture; analysis; capacity building). Because these practices resemble typical knowledge brokerage work, the article pushes for an envisaging of ‘behaviour experts as knowledge brokers’.
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Keywords: Dutch government; ethnographic research; knowledge brokers; nudge

Affiliations: Universiteit Utrecht, Netherlands

Appeared or available online: 09 March 2018

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