2049 Behavioral Public Administration
Univ.Prof. Dr. Jurgen Willems
Contact details
Weekly hours
Language of instruction
09/02/19 to 09/15/19
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Day Date Time Room
Thursday 11/14/19 12:00 PM - 04:00 PM TC.4.14
Thursday 11/21/19 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM TC.4.04
Thursday 11/28/19 01:00 PM - 04:30 PM D3.0.218
Thursday 12/05/19 02:00 PM - 06:00 PM TC.4.14
Thursday 01/09/20 01:30 PM - 05:00 PM TC.4.17
Thursday 01/16/20 01:30 PM - 05:00 PM TC.5.15

We discuss

(1) what Behavioral Public Administration (BPA) is,

(2) why it exactly now is gaining academic and practitioner attention (based on current evolutions in our society),

(3) why it is relevant for citizens, for (future) public sector employees and managers, but also for (future) employees and managers of other sectors that interact on a daily basis with the public sector.

Given the inherently interdisciplinary nature of Behavioral Public Administration, the content of this course is a combination of (1) concrete managerial and practical challenges of managing public services on the one hand, with (2) fundamental theoretical insights in behavioral economics and psychology on the other hand.

As Behavioral Public Administration is strongly related with a knowledge generation process that is based on experimental testing, we also dig into the advantages of an experimental mindset, both for scientific and for practitioner projects.

Learning outcomes

The goal of this course is to create an in-depth insight in the theoretical foundation of behavioral public administration and related fields, in combination with a broad insight in various practical examples. The combination of these two aspects provides a strong mental reference framework for course participants to identify opportunities in their (future) professional life to identify, formulate, and test (public) service improvements.

At the end of this course, students are able to:

- Apply insights from a range of relevant behavioral theories

- List relevant application areas of behavioral strategies (e.g. nudges, nudge-plus, boosts, etc.)

- Develop a good and straightforward experimental design, for scientific and/or practical purpose

- Contribute to the broader societal discussion on the ethics of ‘steering’ citizen and/or (public) employee behaviors

On top, this course contributes to the development of the following skills and competencies:

- A deeper understanding of some ‘wicked’ problems in our contemporary society, through the (class and group) discussions of various practical examples

- Due to the multi-disciplinary approach in this course, students gain meta-knowledge about complementarity but also inconsistencies between different disciplinary approaches.

- Convincingly formulate practitioner and policy recommendations

- Efficient collaboration in groups, presenting, literature review, etc.

Attendance requirements

For the dates listed, at least 80% attendance is required.


If there is an important reason (!) for missing a course, a maximum of 20% of the total duration of the course can be missed. In the case of cumulative absences of more than 20%, the course must be repeated. A confirmation (e.g. medical certificate) must be submitted for the absence. You need to submit this over the MyLearn platform.


According to WU's examination regulations, important reasons are all those that are outside the student's disposition (illness, accident, death of a close relative). Professional obligations are not regarded as an important reason within the meaning of the examination regulations, since they are the responsibility of the students.

Teaching/learning method(s)

The course will consist of a mixture of ex-cathedra teaching, discussing practical cases and examples, and moderated group works. Students will also prepare small assignments BEFORE class, which will form the basis of class discussions.


    Written final examination (individual), 40% of the total grade

    Presentation and written summary of an experimental design (group), 30%.

    Reflection of literature, presentation and written summary (group), 30%.

Availability of lecturer(s)

Preferred contact: come talk to me during course breaks or after class (otherwise via email).

Last edited: 2019-08-22