Universities increasingly expect researchers to meet research funding targets. Phil Ward, deputy director of research services at the University of Kent and a Funding Insight columnist, questions the effectiveness of this approach, not least the potential bureaucracy involved.
When David Cameron and Nick Clegg stumbled, blinking, into power in 2010 they issued The Coalition: Our programme for government, which tried to identify the common ground that existed between their two parties. “We are both committed to turning old thinking on its head and developing new approaches to government. For years…there has been the assumption that central government can only change people’s behaviour through rules and regulations. Our government will be a much smarter one, shunning the bureaucratic levers of the past and finding intelligent ways to encourage, support and enable people to make better choices for themselves.”
This idea came from a book written by Richard Thaler, an economist at the University of Chicago, and Cass Sunstein of the Harvard Law School. Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness was a little like Freakonomics before it: a popular, counterintuitive take on the behavioural psychology that underlies the apparently rational choices we make.