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Government is often thought of as a place where good ideas go to die. We who work in local government know this is not true. We also know, however, that cities' current set of approaches and solutions won't be enough to address our most pressing challenges. We need more and fundamentally different ways to deliver public value, and to understand and address wickedly complex problems. This guidebook is intended to give local leaders a practical, action-oriented framework for breakthrough innovation: a set of approaches and practices out of the startup and municipal innovation worlds that help practitioners break out of deeply embedded assumptions about how government is supposed to operate and open new possibilities for problem-solving and impact.
If you want to encourage a behaviour, make it Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely (EAST). These four simple principles for applying behavioural insights are based on the Behavioural Insights Team's own work and the wider academic literature. There is a large body of evidence on what influences behaviour, and we do not attempt to reflect all its complexity and nuances here. But we have found that policy makers and practitioners find it useful to have a simple, memorable framework to think about effective behavioural approaches.
The Behavioural Insights Team now has a growing programme of work that seeks to understand better the impact of individual's and businesses' behaviours on the economy, in order to find new ways of improving policy in the UK and overseas. For example, the interventions we started in UK Jobcentres two years ago have now been rolled out nationwide and introduced by governments in Singapore and Australia.
Anchor institutions (often referred to as "eds and meds") are place-based enterprises, firmly rooted in their locales. In addition to universities and hospitals, anchors may include cultural institutions (such as museums), health care facilities (such as nursing homes), and municipal governments. Typically, anchors tend to be nonprofit corporations. Because they are rooted in place (unlike for-profit corporations that may relocate for a variety of reasons, such as lower labor costs, more subsidies, or fewer environmental regulations), anchors have, at least in principle, an economic self-interest in helping ensure that the communities in which they are based are safe, vibrant, and healthy.
By 2050, two out of every three people on the planet will live in a city. Urbanization and new ideas go hand in hand; by their very nature, cities have long served to create pockets of innovation, changing and improving the way we live our lives in the process. Historically this process was organic and somewhat serendipitous, but modern advances in technology mean that today's city administrations can play a more deliberate role in accelerating and nurturing innovation. The stories hidden in even the most routine city data sets give insights into how real people live their lives, enabling government to do more than simply clean the roads or provide clean water. Armed with these data points on what people do - not what they say they do or what they wish they did - government can create tailored solutions for their residents and discover what works, all without breaking the bank.
Chester, Pennsylvania, a small, formerly industrial city located on the Delaware River, not far from Philadelphia, exemplifies the problems and possibilities faced by older manufacturing cities across the United States, especially in the Northeast and Midwest. Chester's problems of poverty, stagnation, and unemployment stem from the late 20th-century decline of an industrial economy in the United States - which in Chester was primarily centered on automobile manufacturing and shipbuilding - and the flight of the more affluent residents to the suburbs. The remaining residents face high poverty, high unemployment, a crumbling infrastructure, lack of services and businesses, and underperforming schools. There is hope, however. Although the Federal Reserve Bank classifies Chester as a "struggling city," Chester also embodies the possibilities in the concept of resilience defined as "the individual and collective capacity to respond to adversity and change." The project of turning Chester around is a work in progress, but Chester is also a community that has taken intentional action "to enhance the personal and collective capacity of its citizens and institutions to respond to and influence the course of social and economic change." In fact, Chester, and one of its key partners in community revitalization, Widener University, can serve as a case study of what building resilience can look like in the face of daunting challenges.
For generations, cities have been places where people of every background have sought opportunity. But as urban economies have evolved in recent decades, our cities have experienced sharp growth in economic disparities, and many communities have suffered. Addressing these disparities requires leveraging cities' economic assets in order to better create, prepare people for and connect them to economic opportunity.
It is widely acknowledged that hospitals and universities are anchor institutions - that is, place-based institutions that are tied to their location by reason of mission, invested capital, or relationships to customers or employees and hence have a vested interest in improving the welfare of their surrounding communities. A question that is increasingly arising, however, is to what extent are universities and hospitals conducting their work in ways that explicitly improve the lives of low-income children, families and communities that are often proximate to the campuses of these institutions in major urban areas.
Anchor institutions are place-based entities such as universities and hospitals that are tied to their surroundings by mission, invested capital, or relationships to customers, employees, and vendors. These local human and economic relationships link institution well-being to that of the community in which it is anchored. Increasingly, anchor institutions across the nation are realizing this interdependence and are expanding their public or nonprofit mission to incorporate what we call an "anchor mission." In other words, they are consciously applying their long-term, place-based economic power, in combination with their human and intellectual resources, to better the long-term welfare of the communities in which they reside.