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INSPIRE for better communications

INSPIRE for better communications

Achieving compliance is all in the framing

Written communications, in the form of letters, emails, notices on websites and other correspondence, oil the wheels of government, helping to ensure citizens comply with legislation and take actions that benefit individuals and society as a whole.

In the leading journal, Public Administration Review, BehaviourWorks reports that a growing body of behaviour change literature has identified techniques that can be used in written correspondence to influence behaviour.

Examples include UK tax authorities using these techniques to collect £5.6 billion more in overdue revenue in a single financial year. They have also been used to help reduce UK doctors’ over-prescription of antibiotics and encourage more Canadians to use online e-government services.

The INSPIRE framework

While the methods are well known by behavioural scientists, until now no one has captured the most effective of them in a practical framework that public administrators can use to not only produce effective and impactful written communications but achieve large aggregate increases in compliance.

Recognised as the first model of behaviour change specifically designed to help public administrators, BehaviourWorks’ INSPIRE framework is based on a simple mnemonic that describes seven of the most powerful techniques:

  • Implementation intentions
  • Norms
  • Salience
  • Procedural justice
  • Incentives
  • Reputation and credibility
  • Ease

Tried and tested

While this is the first time BehaviourWorks has published INSPIRE in the literature, it has been tried and tested by several Australian government agencies including VicRoads, which used INSPIRE techniques to increase drivers’ compliance with medical fitness to drive reviews by 23 per cent.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services also used INSPIRE techniques to increase influenza vaccination rates by 34 per cent in indigenous communities and the percentage of secondary school students who received the human papillomavirus vaccine.

Given the fact that the framework provides explicit instructions on how to use each technique, BehaviourWorks has also been invited to deliver INSPIRE training to a range of other Australian government agencies.

“It is unique in the published literature as an integrated model for improving compliance through written communication,” says the paper’s lead author, Dr Nick Faulkner.

“INSPIRE makes it easier for public administrators to use established behavioural science techniques to maximise their impact.

While the paper addresses the needs of public administrators, Dr Faulkner says the techniques can also be used by communications professionals working across a range of industries and contexts.

While each technique appears to work in general, he acknowledges that there may be some contexts in which they work better, worse, or not at all and that further research is needed to investigate if there are certain conditions that influence the effectiveness of INSPIRE techniques.

Read the abstract of the paper

*Authors: Nicholas Faulkner, Kim Borg, Peter Bragge, Jim Curtis, Eraj Ghafoori, Denise Goodwin, Bradley Jorgensen, Lena Jungbluth, Sarah Kneebone, Liam Smith, Breanna Wright and Paula Wright.

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