When incentives become disincentives

Brandon Ellse
TNS Global

As BMW and others have learned, incentive programmes don't always achieve the desired result. Studying behavioural economics and gamification can help, advises TNS Global's Brandon Ellse.

If we ever needed a microcosm of human behaviour, we would surely have to look no further than Hollywood. If the A (and B) listers give us anything at all, it's engrossing high-profile and public relationship squabbles.

Nevertheless, what may often sound like the ramblings of irate couples, actually raises a good question. Why do people behave the way they do? This question has preoccupied thinkers for as long as can be remembered.

If you were to ask an economist to explain behaviour, you could expect to hear one key word sporadically sounded out like a Morse code signal across the airwaves. That word is 'incentives'.