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Kuwait Policy Appraisal Lab (KPAL)

Introduction

The Kuwait Public Appraisal Lab (KPAL) is a behavioral insights unit that has been developed to facilitate the application of behavioral economics into public policy. Behavioral Economics is a discipline of economics that applies psychological insights into human behaviors to explain decisions. It diverts from the common assumption of classical economic disciplines, and proposes a more realistic model on how human behaviour effects decisions and policy. It takes into consideration that people are imperfect and are prone to making mistakes.

Kuwait is amongst the first few countries in the region to embed behavioral science into public policy. In fact, KPAL is the second governmental nudge unit in the region. The application of behavioral science into public policy and development work has been increasing and transforming the way governments are conducting its affairs. As behavioral insights and other innovation methodologies emerge, the government has been working on identifying areas where behavioral insights can be applied for more effective advocacy, policy design and implementation. These include gender equality, inclusiveness, environmental issues and economic diversification.

Roadmap

Three phases that the project is following. KPAL is currently in the final phase.

Strategy and Institutional Setup

  • Benchmarking
  • Vision, Mission, Values
  • Lessons Learned
  • Governance, Operating Model
  • Institutional Setup

Policy Agenda and Capacity Building

  • Policy Agenda
  • Benchmarked Interventions
  • Horizontal Capacity Building
  • Design Blueprint for Experiments
  • Training Workshops

Pilot Experiments and Implementation

  • Implementation of Experiments
  • Rolling-out the Intervention
  • Analysis of results
  • Scaling-Up of Successful Interventions
  • Training and Collaboration

Policy Agendas with Potential Areas of intervention

Currently, KPAL is devising policy agendas of experimentation for 4 pillars related to the Kuwait Vision 2035: Education, Economic Growth and Entrepreneurship, Energy and Environment, and Health. Through a participatory approach with relevant stakeholders, the objective is to identify the policy challenges that have behavioral roots and that could lend themselves into experimentations. The policy agenda outlines the biases for each challenge, benchmarked interventions, lessons learned, and ideas for potential experiments in Kuwait. It also includes blueprint design for potential interventions. The policy agenda ensures that the process of running policy experiments is streamlined and institutionalized based on thorough review of the policies and stakeholder’s engagement.

To discover and pin point which behavioral interventions work, KPAL uses Randomized Control Trials (RCT). RCT’s investigate the effect of interventions on a series of subjects who receive them versus those who don’t, typically a control grouping one or more intervention groups. The random assignment of the population into treatment and control groups ensure that the membership in both groups is similar in all respects, except for the variable in question (the intervention itself).

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Partnerships

Enabling healthy exchange and mutually beneficial partnerships between various stakeholders involved in polices

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Excellence

Using the highest and most rigorous scientific methods to run experiments and test “what works”

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Responsiveness

Ensuring active and speedy engagement with stakeholders on policy priorities and core services

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Credibility

Striving to earn credibility and respect from academic and practicing communities in the conduct of experiments

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Entegrity

Safeguarding the ethical underpinning and professional character of our work at all times

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Sustainability

Always considering behavioral interventions that are sustainable

Policy Agendas with Potential Areas of intervention

Currently, KPAL is devising policy agendas of experimentation for 4 pillars related to the Kuwait Vision 2035: Education, Economic Growth and Entrepreneurship, Energy and Environment, and Health. Through a participatory approach with relevant stakeholders, the objective is to identify the policy challenges that have behavioral roots and that could lend themselves into experimentations. The policy agenda outlines the biases for each challenge, benchmarked interventions, lessons learned, and ideas for potential experiments in Kuwait. It also includes blueprint design for potential interventions. The policy agenda ensures that the process of running policy experiments is streamlined and institutionalized based on thorough review of the policies and stakeholder’s engagement.

To discover and pin point which behavioral interventions work, KPAL uses Randomized Control Trials (RCT). RCT’s investigate the effect of interventions on a series of subjects who receive them versus those who don’t, typically a control grouping one or more intervention groups. The random assignment of the population into treatment and control groups ensure that the membership in both groups is similar in all respects, except for the variable in question (the intervention itself).

Mandate of the Kuwait Nudge Unit

 

  • Leverage regional and global policy experiments for potential replication in the Kuwait context
  • Conduct policy experiments using randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and a variety of evidence-based tools on challenges facing Kuwait
  • Develop a network of researchers in behavioural sciences centres of excellence in the region and around the globe
  • Serve as a platform for exchange and collaboration with various stakeholders involved in policies, including government and NGOs
  • Facilitate research in behavioural sciences using own network of behavioral experts 
  • Review government and organizations’ programs to improve their outcomes through greater use of behavioral insights
  • Publish behavioral economics policy briefs on a variety of topics and experiments 
  • Build capacity of governmental, non-governmental and private sector organization in the area of behavioral sciences and nudging through the organization of trainings and seminars as well as behaviorally informed workshops
  • Collaborate with academia on research projects in the area of behavioral sciences

Institutional Capacity Building

Capacity building is a key activity to build an experimentation culture and behavioral science community in Kuwait. KPAL is aiming to build capacities of key stakeholders and partners in conducting experiments to measure impact of policies.

A. Government Institutions While working on developing the policy agenda, the team has been working on building capacities in different government agencies in the area of behavioral science. As capacity building is part of KPAL’s mandate, it has already ran a series of workshops in many areas of government, such as the Ministry of Electricity and Water, the Ministry of Health, and private sector enterprises such as N-TEC. KPAL has been conducting workshops, lecture series, and training activities to ensure that the environment is receptive to pilot behavioral interventions.

B. Partnerships with Academia KPAL and the American University of Kuwait (AUK) jointly delivered a new university course focused on behavioral economics, public policy and nudge for sustainability from September 2018 - January 2019. The course offering, a recent innovation in the Middle East, is designed for a joint offering between the national Nudge Unit and the university. The course provided a platform for students to learn about behavioral economics concepts, and run experiments related to challenges that have behavioral roots and that at the heart of Kuwait Vision 2035, with a focus on the Energy and Environment pillar. As part of the course, students implemented two field experiments; one to reduce littering in movie theaters and the second is to increase the use of recycling bins at the AUK campus.