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School of Business and Management

Behavioral Science as a Candle in the Dark: Assessing the Role of Choice Architecture in Nudging Public Employees and Citizens during the COVID-19 Pandemic

When: Tuesday, June 14, 2022, 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Where: GC222 Graduate Centre, Mile End Campus

Speaker: R. Paul Battaglio, PhD, The University of Texas at Dallas

With the COVID-19 pandemic as background, we use behavioral science to test the ability of choice architecture to inform policy. In the first study, we employ an online, randomized control trial with 1,500 citizens representative of the Italian general adult population to assess citizen consent to privacy rights over health data. Results show a significant increase in subjects’ willingness to grant access to personal records when the entity analyzing data is public rather than private, and the duration of access is limited. The second inquiry puts self-determination theory (SDT) to an empirical test through a series of discrete choice experiments across three samples of public healthcare workers, for a total of 4,743 subjects. The results provide convergent evidence in support of autonomy, competence, and relatedness simultaneously and independently improving employee satisfaction, with the fulfilment of one’s need for competence having the greatest positive impact across experimental replications. Our third study uses an online randomized controlled trial to explore how defaults and reminders affect the performance of 5,303 public healthcare professionals on a test about the appropriate use of gloves. Our findings suggest when correct answers are pre-populated, subjects are less likely to err, and they tend to perform better than their peers. Moreover, visual aids are more effective than textual reminders regarding the appropriate use of gloves. Finally, employing a conjoint experiment on 12,219 Italian citizens we explore perceptions concerning COVID-19 vaccination priority among social categories. Italian citizens prioritize performing an essential job and working in the public sector regarding access to vaccinations.



R. Paul Battaglio, PhD, is Professor of Public and Nonprofit Management at The University of Texas at Dallas and a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Queen Mary University of London. Prof Battaglio’s research interests include healthcare management and policy, behavioral public administration, human resource management, organization theory and behavior, and comparative public policy. Prof Battaglio has served as the editor of two top journals in public administration and policy: Public Administration Review and the Review of Public Personnel Administration. He is also the author of “Public Human Resource Management: Strategies and Practices in the 21st Century,” (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2014). Prof Battaglio’s peer-reviewed publications have appeared in the Journal of European Public Policy, Public Administration Review, the Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory, Public Management Review, Administration and Society, the American Review of Public Administration, and the Review of Public Personnel Administration. Before his academic career, Prof Battaglio was a policy analyst in the Louisiana Governor’s Office, focusing on state higher education, economic development, transportation, and environmental policy.

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