Michael Luca

Lee J. Styslinger III Associate Professor of Business Administration, HBS


The development of the concept of choice architecture has been a major breakthrough in the social sciences. Integrating insights from behavior economics and psychology, choice architecture – or nudges - can help people make better decisions by changing the way in which choices are presented (Thaler and Sunstein 2008). Given their relatively low cost and ease of implementation, the use of choice architecture has become increasingly popular among governments and organizations in recent years.

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 insights from behavioral economics and psychology to policymaking. The team has pioneered the use of behavioral insights in policy, and scored numerous successes across the government policy spectrum, including tax collection, charitable giving, education, and employment. More recently, the team has begun advising other countries, including Singapore and Australia, on the similar issues. 

Since the inception of BIT, a rapidly growing number of businesses and governments have created their own behavioral insights teams. For example, a recent count found over 100 behavioral insights teams operating in governments around the world, all created in just the past few years.

Through project work and exposure to organizations that have successfully applied behavioral insights, this course will help students to develop a toolkit for applying behavioral insights to improve decision making.

There is a mandatory fee for this course of $2,500. To apply, please carefully review the course description and fill out the application link on this page:  https://cpl.hks.harvard.edu/field-courses-2018-2019.  Applications are due by 11:59 PM (EST) on Wednesday, August 29th.

Also offered by the Business School as 6022. Four on-campus sessions on Tuesday evenings, from 5:45-7:00 PM on September 25, October 23, November 13, and December 4, 2018 Travel dates: Arrival, January 9, departure on Saturday, January 19, 2019 (NOTE: the immersion departure location will be from Paris, France. For students who want to return to London, there are easy train and flight options from Paris to London.) Program fee & travel costs: See details on Course Credit and Fees Enrollment: Limited to 25 HBS students, 20 students from HKS. Students who successfully complete this course (including participation in all on-campus sessions during the Fall and Spring terms) will earn 3.0 HBS course credits, or 4.0 HKS course credits (2.0 HKS credits per semester) 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 toward defraying a part of these costs. This fee will cover double-occupancy accommodations in-country with daily hotel breakfast, ground transportation, local transportation for field work, daily internet access at hotels, meeting space in-country, an iPhone with calling, text, and data, all taxes and gratuities for included activities, and emergency medical, evacuation, and repatriation insurance through HTA). Please note that students will also be required to purchase their own international airfare to and from the destination, entry and transit visa expenses, immunizations, and personal expenses. Enrolled students may make an appointment with HKS Financial Aid with confirmation of their course registration and a plane ticket receipt to discuss increasing their loan amount in accordance with their costs. This course is open by permission of the instructor. Previous coursework or experience in behavioral economics is not required. For detailed information about what the course program fee includes and excludes, as well as information about student accommodations, please visit the GE