Immersive Field Course: UK and the Netherlands; Behavioral Insights - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Immersive Field Course: UK: Behavioral Insights

Course Number 6022

Professor Max H. Bazerman
Six on-campus sessions on Tuesdays from 6:15 pm - 8:15 PM on 9/6, 9/20, 10/4, 11/8, 12/6 and 2/7 (the last one 2017)
Dates: Arrival by 3:00pm on Sunday, January 8, departure on Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Program fee & travel costs: See details on Course Credit and Fees
Credits: 3.0
Enrollment: Limited to 30 MBA and 4 doctoral students from HBS, 20 students from HKS.

Career Focus

This course will appeal to students who are interested in obtaining a basic understanding on behavioral decision research and behavioral economics, and mastering knowledge of decision architecture, or "nudging." All students will work on actual projects connected to the UK government.

Educational Objectives

Perhaps the most important practical development in the social sciences in the last fifty years has been the development of idea of creating an architecture for changing the environment to lead humans to better decisions through "nudges" (Thaler and Sunstein, 2008). The fields of behavioral economics and psychology have become integrated into governments through this work.

Established in 2010 and directed by David Halpern, the Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) was set up in the heart of the British Government to apply behavioral economics and psychology to policymaking. The team has scored numerous successes across the government policy spectrum, overcoming initial skepticism on the part of some government officials. In addition to the team's successes at changing policy, they have championed the "What Works" agenda in government, particularly through the use of randomized controlled trials, and through collaboration with academics.

More recently, the team has begun advising other countries, including Singapore and Australia, on the same issues. The ideas are being incorporated into other governments including the Netherlands and the U.S. BIT works with a variety of partners both in government and in industry to implement nudges. They have led interventions in a variety of domains, including tax collection, charitable giving, education, and employment.

The Behavioral Insights Group (BIG), co-directed by Max Bazerman and Iris Bohnet and housed at the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, brings together Harvard University's outstanding collection of decision research scholars and behavioral economists. BIG's members focus their energies on how to improve decision-making in order to advance the public interest and make the world a better place.

In this course, students will obtain a basic understanding on behavioral decision research and behavioral economics; muster what we know about decision architecture - or "nudging"; and apply these ideas to a group project with their client from local or national government in the United Kingdom.

Course Content and Organization

Overview and Introduction: There will be six class sessions over the course of the Fall semester. We plan on a very busy course. While in the UK, the course will incorporate multiple visits with the nudge unit, with agencies that have implemented nudges, and other select meetings that will facilitate our work.

We plan five on-campus sessions in the fall, ten days of work in London, an oral report in country from each group, and a written product from each group.

Projects: All students will be working with a client, in the UK, both in advance of the trip, and during our visit. The basic idea is that we are going to learn from the most visible successes in this realm, and apply our knowledge in new projects. We look forward to adding cultural activities. But, the majority of the meetings will be focused on meeting with government entities and private partners with whom they are engaging.

Integration: This course builds on behavioral concepts developed in LEAD, Marketing, and in various EC courses in NOM. The course is closely connected to Max Bazerman's active research program.

*Please note: students who enroll in the course will be asked to submit a one paragraph statement clarifying their interests in early September.



The Immersive Field Course Model

In contrast to FIELD 2 Global Immersions, Immersive Field Courses are customized according to individual faculty research and are designed to enable students to take an active role in the construction of their learning. In many instances, these courses are built with a specific focus in mind and teams of students are called upon to collaborate directly with local company partners to scope projects, collect data and organize work plans before and during the immersion. Longer in duration than FIELD 2, these courses also tailor learning via field-based exercises, panel presentations, guest lectures, alumni events and plenary visits to relevant companies and organizations.

Course Credit and Fees

Students who successfully complete this course (including participation in all on-campus sessions during the Fall and Spring terms) will earn 3.0 course credits.

HBS will provide in-country logistics for this course (including accommodations, select meals, and local travel) but students will need to contribute a fee of $2,500 towards defraying a part of these costs. In addition, students are responsible for their round-trip air travel and any costs associated with required visa documentation and immunizations. HBS students who have applied for financial aid may apply for additional financial support to participate in this course. Please see the Financial Aid website (login required) for more information on financial support for Immersive Field Courses.

For detailed information about what the course program fee includes and excludes, as well as information about student accommodations, please visit the GEO website.