From education to employment

#Nudging firms to improve productivity: rapid literature review

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) carried out a rapid literature review of behavioural factors and best practice business prompts to encourage businesses to improve productivity.


Business Basics: Nudging firms to improve productivity – rapid literature review of behavioural factors and best-practice business prompts

Ref: BEIS Research Paper number: 2019/17PDF, 694KB, 38 pages


This rapid literature review was carried out to inform the design of a series of Business Basics messaging trials. The review resulted in 2 key findings.

1. It identified multiple behavioural factors that affect whether firms adopt technology and management practices, for example:

  • overconfidence
  • understanding and/or salience of the benefits to adoption
  • level of growth ambition
  • information gaps
  • support of peer networks
  • trigger points

These are key factors to be considered when designing and implementing communication strategies and business support interventions.

2. It identified an opportunity to build the evidence around what works in prompting businesses. A number of message frames have been found to be effective, but other elements of messaging provide mixed evidence, for example:

  • who sends and receives the message
  • the mode of communication
  • the timing and framing of the communications

BEIS are currently working with BIT to build on the literature review findings and design a series of messaging trials. The trials will seek to understand the more effective ways of communicating with businesses. The findings will be published in a final evaluation report to share learnings with those communicating with businesses and delivering interventions.

Related Articles