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Nudging small and medium-sized companies

 

In cooperation with partners from practice and science, we are examining whether behavioural-economic “nudges” can be successfully applied in the context of companies. We are focusing on small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), which account for 99% of Swiss businesses.

​Project description (ongoing research project)

In view of the planetary boundaries economic use of resources is indispensable. A large portion of resources is depleted by industry, not by households. It is therefore important to encourage companies to use natural resources more sustainably. In cooperation with partners from practice and science, we will examine whether “nudges” can be successfully implemented in the context of companies. In doing so, we will use methods of experimental economics research and assess the effectiveness of various “nudges” on the use of resources by use of SMEs. Conducting randomised field experiments in cooperation with our partners allows us to identify the causal effects of different behavioural-economic “nudges” on the consumption of resources by these companies.

Background

Nudges are often used to help an individual make better decisions. In recent years they have been applied in particular to motivate people to take more care with natural resources. Examples of such effective “nudges” include information about the energy consumption of neighbours, and energy-efficiency labels that simplify the selection of household devices. However, a large portion of resources is depleted by companies, not by individual households. Against the backdrop of the federal government’s “Energy Strategy 2050” and the United Nations Agenda 2030, to which Switzerland has committed, it is therefore important to reduce the consumption of energy and resources by companies.

Aims

The aim of the study is to find out whether soft political instruments such as “nudges” not only have an influence on individuals, but can also encourage companies to use natural resources sustainably.

Importance

“Nudges” are, in comparison with taxes and regulations, cost-effective and soft policy instruments. Should behavioural-economic “nudges” also have a significant impact in the company context and help reduce the consumption of energy and resources by companies, this would have far-reaching implications for the implementation of strategies for a sustainable economy.

Original title

Project leaders

  • Dr. Jan Schmitz, Institut für Umweltentscheidungen, ETH Zürich

Project partners

  • Christian Wirz , Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil
  • myclimate
  • Stadt Luzern
  • ​Stadt Zürich

 

 

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 Contact

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Dr. Jan Schmitz Institut für Umweltentscheidungen, ETH Zürich Clausiusstrasse 39 8092 Zürich +41 44 632 41 83 schmitz@econ.gess.ethz.ch

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