The 2009 publication of the best-selling book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein sparked enormous interest in how choice architecture and nudges could be used to improve outcomes in organizations.1 Policymakers inside and outside of government have been scrambling since to master new nudging strategies in order to improve the decisions of citizens, employees, and customers. Over 200 countries and municipalities now boast “centrally directed policy initiatives,” or so-called “nudge-units,” influenced by behavioral science (OECD, 2017) and many Fortune 500 companies are opening similar divisions. A recent review article highlighted the extraordinary cost-effectiveness of nudges relative to other levers of influence (e.g., incentives, rules, educational campaigns) that are typically used by policymakers inside and outside of organizations to influence behavior (Benartzi et al., 2017). However, in spite of the growing applied interest in using nudging as a policy tool, far more field research is needed on which nudges and choice architecture strategies work best to change behavior in organizations. The goal of this Special Issue was to (a) publish pioneering papers testing the efficacy of nudges and choice architecture through field experiments in organizations and (b) substantially accelerate and shape the direction of academic research in this area. To do so, we sought papers presenting field experiments alone or in combination with laboratory experiments that explored the efficacy of nudging and choice architecture in organizations. We defined “field experiments” as studies with random assignment of participants to conditions and participants who engaged in the tasks under study in their natural environments. The manuscripts in this Special Issue are methodologically and topically diverse, and all meaningfully advance our objective of accelerating research on nudges and choice architecture in organizations. Some do so by introducing new tools of choice architecture, others by yielding important new empirical or theoretical insights about previously-studied nudges, and yet others by shedding new light on important ongoing debates in the literature. Each individual article is carefully executed, thought-provoking, and of considerable policy importance. Together, the articles highlight just how exciting and diverse the research on choice architecture and nudging in organizations has become.
Chapman, Gretchen, Katherine L. Milkman, David Rand, Todd Rogers and Richard H. Thalere. "Nudges and choice architecture in organizations: New frontiers." Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 163 (March 2021).