World Bank mentions BIG’R in report

Erasmus University Rotterdam and the municipality of Rotterdam encourage positive behavior of citizens
Jan van der Ploeg

Behavioral Insight Group Rotterdam (BIG’R) has been included in the recently published country report - Behavioral Science around the World: Profiles of 10 Countries from the World Bank Group (2019). The report provides an overview of ten countries in which various research organizations contribute to behavioral change. BIG’R is a collaboration between Erasmus University Rotterdam and the municipality of Rotterdam.

Interest mention by World Bank

The World Bank is one of the largest international organizations that draws up policies based on behavioral insights. This country report reaches a broad target group including politicians, administrators, researchers, managers, companies, banks and civil society organizations. For Erasmus University Rotterdam, BIG’R is therefore a nice way of engaging in social impact.

The initiator from EUR prof.dr. Semiha Denktas: "During the first two years, the BIG'R team was deliberately closed off to the outside world. At first we started working hard to be able to deliver good and thorough work. Many concrete results have already been achieved and the evaluation is positive. Now it is time to present what BIG’R has been achieving. That is why the mention in the World Bank report provides us with significant recognition. "

Close cooperation ensures more effective municipal policy

How do you ensure that people do not throw their garbage onto the streets but in the garbage bins? How do you ensure that people who have made an appointment with the municipality actually follow through? Within BIG’R, researchers from Erasmus University Rotterdam work together with policy makers from the municipality of Rotterdam to positively change the behavior of Rotterdam residents.

Mariska Zegveld, BIG'R municipal project manager on 1 June 2019, adds: "BIG'R is investigating whether problems and challenges for which the municipality of Rotterdam has primary responsibility can be tackled by positively influencing people's behavior from a scientific perspective through an established method and proven methodology. From urban management to social development, all clusters of the municipality of Rotterdam are represented in BIG’R. Representatives from these different clusters collect the questions that play a role within the relevant field and these questions are scientifically investigated. Solutions and interventions are tested on a small-scale in practice for the intended results and are then converted into a more effective municipal policy. With the use of BIG’R, Rotterdam plays a major role in the discussion of how to shape this within a government organization. "Want to know more about the projects and the results? Then have a look at the website

BIG’R distinguishes itself from other research centers

BIG’R is the only project in the Netherlands in which researchers and civil servants work together from A to Z. The chance that the results of investigations are properly implemented is therefore high.

It is also exceptional that BIG’R works in an interdisciplinary manner. Not only behavioral scientists are involved, but also public administration experts, sociologists and behavioral economists. Public administration experts are able to take a good look at how the policy process is running. Sociologists have an eye for the functioning and structure of human society, for example, how inequality between social groups plays a role in (the absence of) behavioral change. While behavioral economists work less empirically and more with calculation models. These different areas of expertise are incredibly valuable.

Marjolein Kooistra, mediarelaties ESSB,
More information

Het World Bank rapport: Behavioral Science around the World: Profiles of 10 Countries