Workshop with Teach for Austria
written by
Mackenzie Arnold and Nida Basbuga

Nudging towards Sustainability

On April 7th, SIMCies from the 2019 and 2020 intakes joined a virtual workshop, coordinated by the Social Responsibility Department and hosted by Teach for Austria, on Nudging. As we learned in the workshop, ‘nudging’ is a term from behavioural economics that involves positive reinforcement and suggestions to influence decision-making and change human behaviour based on the individual’s own judgment.

Our brains were asked to wake up right at the beginning of the workshop, when our workshop leader, Sade, sent us four brainteasers to complete in under five minutes. Questions like “If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?” stumped many of us...And quickly we learned how our inherent biases, intuitions, and internalized past experiences often create mental blocks that prevent us from making the best, most rational and informed decisions. And so, enter the importance of nudging and choice architecture (creating an environment for people to make the best decisions).

Sade took us on a journey through many examples of nudging in everyday life. The neat thing was that many of us had experienced these examples, but hadn’t realized that they could be considered nudging - strategically positioning products on supermarket shelves to change purchasing behaviour, providing smaller plate sizes at buffets to encourage smaller portions, offering the option to opt out of organ donation vs. offering the option to opt in to increase proportion of willing organ donors...the list goes on.

In the latter half of the workshop, it was up to us to come up with examples of nudging from our past experiences, or to think of new ideas for nudges that could encourage a particular behaviour or decision. During our brainstorming sessions, we aimed to go EAST with our nudge ideas, attempting to make them Easy, Attractive, Social, and Timely.

Some of the best ideas that came out of the workshop were:

● A coffee shop that makes alternative milk like oat milk the rule and cow milk the exception by making customers pay an extra fee. Additionally, a live ticker behind the coffee counter that shows how much CO2 emissions you saved along with a punch card that gives you more advantages with alternative milk rather than cow milk will further incentivize customers to opt for the more sustainable oat milk.

● Putting chicken feet stickers on the floor of supermarkets that lead to eggs from free range chickens, along with a bright green packaging people might be more inclined to buy free range eggs rather than the boring greyish brown packaged caged chicken eggs

● Set goals for e.g. waking up early and utilize social pressure to keep your goals. In fact, after the event some SIMCies created a WhatsApp group that is dedicated to nudging each other to wake up early. They are even sending photos as proof. Very creative! :)

In the end, the workshop was a really interesting way to step out of our traditional business education and learn about an interesting concept in a different, but highly related discipline. We all came away with a variety of interesting, thought provoking ideas, as well as an ability to recognize nudges in the world around us.

The Social Responsibility Department was thrilled to be able to offer this workshop as a result of our collaboration with Teach for Austria, and we look forward to working with the organization again in the future! Thank you to Teach for Austria and everyone who participated and the team behind the event that made it possible!

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Mackenzie Arnold and Nida Basbuga

SIMConnect Social Responsibility Department Team Member and Co-Head
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