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Sultanate sets up Behavioural Insights Unit with UK-based firm

17 Feb 2020

The Secretariat General of Supreme Council of Planning (SCP) organised on Sunday morning at SCP headquarters an introductory workshop for undersecretaries and CEOs of government and private sector companies on ‘Behavioural Economics’ applications. Behavioural economics is one of the leading sciences in change management that uses psychology and economic principles to engineer choices and stimulate taking informed decisions.  

The workshop was one of the multiple activities organised by the newly established Behavioural Insights Unit at SCP. 

The workshop gave an overview about the unit’s roles and responsibilities and discussed future opportunities to collaborate with different entities to implement behaviourally informed trials. 

The introductory workshop on behavioural economics was conducted by the UK-based Behavioural Insights Team (BIT).  

The workshop discussed successful applications of behavioural trials in several domains, tools used in producing behaviourally designed policies that account for the impact of the surrounding environment on compliance and adherence. The workshop concluded by giving insights about evaluating the success of behavioural economics applications. The establishment of Behavioural Insights Office comes as one of the outcome of Oman Vision 2040. The unit would support Oman Vision 2040 in implementing change management using behavioural economics. The Behavioural Economics Unit team comprises Omani and British experts in economy, policies, psychology, and statistics, among others.  

Last November, the sultanate represented by the Supreme Council of Planning, signed in London an agreement with UK-based Behavioural Insights Team to setup Behavioural Insights Office in Oman. The agreement was signed by H E Talal Sulaiman al Rahbi, Deputy Secretary General of Supreme Council of Planning,and Dr David Halpern, CEO of Behavioural Insights Team.  

Behavioural Economics Unit aims to improve the effectiveness of public policies through behavioural studies, facilitation and activation of public services rendered to the public. It enables citizens to take informed decisions through the engineering of different choices while at the same time maintaining the citizens’ right of choice. It seeks active collaboration with private sector in redesigning the choices and the surrounding environments in order to serve the public interest.  

The unit was set up in two phases where the first phase focusses on defining the unit scope of the work, development of vision, mission and objectives in addition to capacity building. The second phase entails specifying and carrying out studies and experiments as well as measuring its economic impact. 

H E Rahbi said, “We are pleased to partner with BIT who is a leader in using psychology and economy to improve the quality of life for citizens and residents alike and exploit the aspired outcomes from the implementation of different policies and regulations. The impact of the human factor on individuals’ lives is clear to everyone. Through the use of scientific methodologies, we will be able to maximise the aspired potentials from the implementation of these policies by re-engineering the choices made to enhance the individual and community wellbeing.” 

Dr Halpern said, “We’ve worked with governments to improve public services and wellbeing in dozens of countries around the world, and we’ll be bringing the same academic rigour and practical experience to the new office.” 

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