Can a Nudge Perform a Miracle? A quasi-experimental field study on employees’ stated and revealed preferences towards plastic recycling at Haukeland university hospital
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Plastic pollution has become a major global problem and recycling is one step to take to solve the issue. A lot of research on nudge theory have focused on consumers, but very few have investigated the effect of nudges on employees’ environmental behaviour. Organizations produce substantial amount of plastic wastes where the success of correct recycling depends mainly on employees. The aim of this thesis is therefore to motivate and encourage employees’ plastic recycling behaviour by introducing simple nudges and investigate their stated and revealed preferences while taking the value-action gap into consideration. Theory of planned behaviour and nudge theory were used as conceptual lenses to guide this research. A quasi-experimental field study with one control group and two experimental groups including a pre-post-test was conducted. Based on a review of the literature on nudge theory and theories on human behaviour, interventions were designed, an online survey was distributed, and waste audits were conducted. Nudge interventions were: 1) provision of information on the meaning and purpose behind recycling through a document sent by email, 2) recognition; a poster with a positive message, 3) Instructions; informative posters on how to dispose plastic waste and 4) a reminder to recycle. Results show that one experimental group improved recycling by 42%, the other experimental group decreased by 2 % and the control group experienced a 26% improvement. A combination of meaning and purpose to recycle and simple recognition nudge seemed to have the strongest effect. The intention to recycle had a significant positive effect on stated behaviour, moreover intention and behaviour were similar across groups. There was a slight contradiction in stated and revealed preferences for one experimental group however consistency in preferences for the other experimental group. In conclusion, emphasizing meaning and purpose and recognizing recycling effort may improve environmentally friendly behaviour. Based on the results, it is recommended that environmental organizations use simple and cheap nudges to target their goal of more correct recycling and in turn gain financial and environmental benefits.
Master's thesis in Economic Analysis