nudge theory

Cass Sunstein on Nudge Theory

In this excerpt from the event, ‘Why Nudge?’, renowned public thinker Cass Sunstein defends his groundbreaking nudge theory.

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Knowing the Network and Knitting the Network

Lack of outside information, and dense cohesion within the network, removes all possibility for new ideas and innovations. We see this in isolated rural communities that are resistant to change, or Nodes with many direct connections that quickly disperse information; Nodes that connect otherwise disconnected parts of the network – they act as liaisons; Nodes that connect two or more clusters – they act as bridges between groups. We see this in isolated rural communities that are resistant to change, or in a classic “old boy network”. Yet, the dense connections, and high degree of commonality forms good work groups – clusters of people who can work together smoothly.

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Seel: The Nature of Emergence

Intention is not a simple intrinsic property of human agents. Instead, it is often—perhaps always—co-created as a result of interactions with other people. Intention, therefore, can be thought of as an emergent property created from the interactions within a human system which then feeds back into the system and influences its future development. In particular, it influences the way in which at least one of the complex agents in the system will behave in future.

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The ancient practice of Chinese social networking

Guanxi is defined by Mei- hui (1994) as a gift economy, but it is much more. Luo (1997) say, “The Chinese word Guanxi refers to the concept of drawing on connections in order to secure favors in personal relations. It is an intimate and pervasive relational network in which Chinese culture energetically, subtly, and imaginatively engage” (p. 2). But for our purposes perhaps Bell’s (2000) definition is most helpful. He defines Guanxi as more than connections; it is a “mechanism by which individuals are able to achieve personal, family or business objectives. Bell’s definition focuses on a process by which we achieve collective goals.

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Changing Identity: The Emergence of Social Groups

An individual is a specific human being with a personal identity that is represented by his desire to be and to become who he wants to be. Social identity is just one aspect of this individual’s personal identity. Having a social identity does not necessarily preclude an individual from choosing another social identity. To do this he must be able to think and to reflect on whether his social and cultural background or his position within society is the most adapted to his personal endeavours.

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Self-Organizing Leadership

In my experience, most people in organizations are hard working, intelligent, and well-intentioned. Very few people get up in the morning with the express intent of messing up their organization. So why is it that in some organizations people blossom, while in others they wither?