Behavioural insights to help choose Oman's development priorities
February 16, 2020 | 10:15 PM
by Times News Service
The agreement was signed by Talal Sulaiman Al Rahbi, Deputy Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Planning and Dr David Halpern, CEO of Behavioural Insights Team. Photo: Supplied

Muscat: Oman’s Supreme Council for Planning (SCP) aims to develop the economy, based on the services that are most required by people in the country, so that they actively meet their needs.

The SCP on Sunday organised an event on behavioural economics for officials from the government and private sectors that looks at how economic decisions affect people’s psychology and emotion.

It gave an overview about the SCP’s roles and responsibilities and discussed future opportunities to collaborate with different entities to implement behaviourally informed trials followed by an introductory workshop on behavioural economics by the UK-based Behavioural Insights Team (BIT).

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 were discussed. It concluded by giving insights on evaluating the success of behavioural economics applications.

“The impact of the human factor on individuals’ lives is clear to everyone,” he added. “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”.

On his part, Dr David Halpern, the CEO of Behavioural Insights Team said “We’re delighted to be supporting the Supreme Council of Planning in setting up what will be one of the first government entities in the region dedicated to behavioural insights. We’ve worked with governments to improve public services and well-being in dozens of countries around the world, and we’ll be bringing the same academic rigour and practical experience to the new SCP Behavioural Insight Office.”

The establishment of Behavioural Insights Office comes as one of the outcomes of Oman Vision 2040. The Vision discussed in its conference held in January 2019 the importance of change management. The unit would support Oman Vision 2040 in implementing change management using behavioural economics. Behavioural economics is one of the leading sciences in change management that uses principles of psychology and economy to engineer choices and stimulate taking informed decisions.

The Behavioural Economics Unit team comprises of Omani and British experts in economy, policies, psychology, and statistics among others. Last November, the Sultanate represented by the Supreme Council for Planning had signed an agreement with UK-based Behavioural Insights Team in London to setup a behavioural insights office in Oman.

The agreement was signed by Talal Sulaiman Al Rahbi, Deputy Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Planning and Dr David Halpern, CEO of Behavioural Insights Team.

The SCP’s 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 the private sector in redesigning the choices and the surrounding environments in order to serve the public interest.

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

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