Bupa Lecture Series: Applying Behavioural Science in Large Organisations - Rachel Carey

Posted : 24 May 2017

The first event of the Bupa Lecture Series was held at the Institute for Child Health at University College London (UCL) last Tuesday (16th May).

It centred on the application of behavioural science in large organisations, and was held in partnership with UCL’s Centre for Behaviour Change. Behavioural science, the systematic study of human behaviour, is being increasingly applied to behaviour change in organisational contexts – for example, to improve health and wellbeing of staff.


The session was chaired by Dr. Paula Franklin, who emphasised the value of behavioural science and the significance of the Lecture Series, which aims to draw on leading academic expertise to engage and stimulate thinking on issues affecting Bupa’s clinical community. Professor Susan Michie and Dr. Paul Chadwick spoke on behalf of UCL’s Centre for Behaviour Change, sharing insights on the application of frameworks and theory-based models in generating organisational change. Dr. Luke James provided an overview of how behavioural science applies to workplace health and wellbeing at Bupa, highlighting the potential for organisations to be viewed as vehicles for change. I spoke in my joint role as Senior Behaviour Change Research Advisor at Bupa, and Associate of the Centre for Behaviour Change, on the translation of academic research into practice.



The turnout and engagement of the audience was indicative of the level of interest that exists in this topic. Generating dialogue between people working in academia, policy and practice is extremely important for advancing the application of behavioural science in organisational contexts. The panel discussion and networking reception prompted a lot of food for thought; questions from the audience demonstrated the wide range of backgrounds, disciplines, and experience represented in the room.


One audience member I spoke to said: ‘It was nice to understand from an academic perspective what is ‘best practice’, but also about how that works in the real world.’ Similarly, Dr. Luke James reflected on the evening with the thought that it was ‘a great mix of behavioural change theory and practical examples of its application which really engaged the audience’.


My main reflection on the evening was that events such as these, which capture such a diverse range of personal and professional perspectives, should be seen as a starting point for further discussion and collaborative partnerships, because the potential for shared learning is significant.



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