MLD-310: Behavioral Economics for Organizations

Semester: Fall

Credit: 4.0

Faculty: Iris Bohnet


Day Time Location
Term Start Date 8/31
Meet Day M 4:15 PM - 7:00 PM Aldrich 209 (HBS)


This course uses insights from behavioral economics to promote organizational health. Getting and staying healthy includes preventing undesirable events from happening, detecting issues when they arise and mitigating against the consequences as they occur. To promote healthy behaviors, organizations typically rely on “soft” instruments such as awareness raising and appeals through training programs and information sharing, or “hard” instruments such as command-and-control through rules, carrots and sticks. This course argues that behavioral design or “nudges” offer a middle ground to establish healthy behaviors, often more powerful than awareness raising and less costly than shoves.
In two design-a-thons, we will design nudges promoting desired behaviors regarding inclusive talent management and ethics and compliance.  The two applications represent “want-should” dilemmas, where people know what they should be doing but then, do not get around to doing it. The course emphasizes evidence-based reasoning. Students will learn how to diagnose the “behavioral health” of an organization, design potential treatments for what is broken, and rigorously evaluate their impact, using big data analytics and experimentation. The course will meet in 12 double-sessions, where in addition to case analyses and simulations, we will have discussions with representatives from the private and the public sector who either have developed or are using behavioral tools to de-bias talent management and/or improve ethics and compliance.

Also offered by the Business School as 1820.

John F. Kennedy School of Government 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
617-495-1100 Get Directions Visit Contact Page