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Inaugural lecture Lars Tummers: “Towards effective and accepted behavioral change”

In his inaugural lecture, entitled (in Dutch) “Naar gedragen gedragsverandering”  (Towards effective and accepted behavioral change), professor Lars Tummers will talk about his research and future plans for the chair of Professor of Public Management and Behaviour.

BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE OFTEN NECESSARY TO TACKLE SOCIETAL PROBLEMS

Public administration scholars and psychologists must work together to achieve lasting behavioral change, says Professor Lars Tummers in his inaugural lecture. Behavioral change is often necessary to tackle societal problems. If we want citizens to get into debt less often, these people need to change their buying behavior. If we want to be healthier, we need to exercise more, eat less sugar and fat, and we should certainly stop drinking soft drinks. If we want people to vote in elections – even if it rains cats and dogs – we have to find ways to nudge citizens to the ballot box.

ANALYSING THE EFFECTIVENESS AND LEGITIMACY OF GOVERNMENT ACTION

In his inaugural lecture, Tummers shows several examples of how insights from psychology help to change people’s behaviour. These insights provide inspiration for the government when it comes to the behaviour of citizens. However, the government should not be a manipulator that applies the latest behavioural ‘trics’ without thinking. Broad support is necessary for behavioural change.

The expertise of public administration and public management experts is crucial here. Knowledge about political processes, context dependence, conflicts between public managers and professionals, and resistance to government reforms helps. According to Tummers, we need to analyze the behavioral change strategies from government in a broader sense, moving beyond mere ‘effectiveness’ and by including notions of societal support and legitimacy.

In addition, Tummers will discuss how the development of new theory (such as by using insights from neuroscience about empathy) and new methods (testing interventions through field experiments in context) can help governments to develop behavioral change strategies that are both effective and accepted by the public.

Tummers’ inaugural lecture will take place on 15 March 2019 16:15, at the Academiegebouw.