Nairobi, Tuesday Sept 17th, 2019

Dear Readers,

For those of you familiar with our organization, you will know this past July we celebrated 5 years of practicing Behavioral Science.

Over this period, we have launched Busara offices in 5 markets, built a global community of transparency and rigor in behavioral science and developed many exciting partnerships with private and public institutions. This work would not have been possible without the trust, support and loyalty of our friends and partners with whom we have grown and learnt over the years. Thank you!

As our first opportunity to pause and reflect on our body of work since our inception, we decided to organize our case studies by intervention and stages of behavior change, and publicly share outcomes of these experiments on our website. As you will see below, many had positive impact, but not all: some tests had no discernible effect (orange boxes), while others had negative results (red boxes). We believe all are worth sharing: we must learn from our successes as from our failures, and hope doing so will help our community to continue to learn and grow. We invite you to click around and explore our applied work.

In addition to our applied work, you can also explore academic papers from researchers conducting work at Busara. These are organized into “Evaluation”: papers which evaluate the impact of an intervention on a behavior of interest, and “Methods”: papers which explore a method or measurement that is of use to the scientific community. These experiments are all in pursuit of new scientific knowledge and academic publication and can be filtered by behavior, sector, affiliated institution and geography.

In reviewing our work across five years, we have also compiled five primary lessons learned, designed to share with the broader community and summarized below:

  1. Test for insights, apply for impact: Researchers care about precision, practitioners care about magnitude. Behavioral science applications must find a way to balance both.
  2. Impact starts early: Behavioral interventions are too often viewed as supplementary measures. The most effective interventions address core product design, and must start early.
  3. Biases are local: Cognitive biases are context-dependant, and far more likely to manifest when the stimulus is highly relevant and local.
  4. Behavioral science is still WEIRD: We know that demand for behavioral science is increasingly global, but supply has largely grown in previously established regions: our science needs to prioritize new regions and markets. 
  5. Lab research is becoming easier and faster: Labs are not simply for pure research, they are often the right choice for new product or program development. We believe that decision labs are a critical research tool to solving the WEIRD problem
We look forward to continue growing and learning with you, and invite you to explore our dedicated microsite to discover our body of work as well as our plans for the future.
5 years of Behavioral Science at Busara

Best regards,

James Vancel
CEO Busara Center for Behavioral Economics

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