Can a person be nudged into starting a business?

Using behavioural science nudging techniques to encourage people to start businesses

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

The Tasmanian economy has progressed well during the pandemic. However, the state’s underemployment rate is higher than other states in Australia, and a relatively high proportion of employed people work in low paid and/or low skilled jobs.   This is particularly problematic in regional and remote areas. With the advent of the 2019 pandemic, businesses have modified their operations to capitalise on on-line market opportunities, impacting labour market conditions.   Although this may make it even more difficult to find work in the ‘traditional’ sense of the word, there are alternatives: the alternative focused on here, being that of starting a business.   The on-line revolution has created opportunities, giving scope to move away from expensive brick and mortar business models and to instead pursue potentially more cost effective online models.

This multiple-disciplinary project brings together two disciplines: Entrepreneurship and Behavioural Economics. The successful applicant will leverage insights from the ‘nudging’ literature, focusing on business start-ups.

Research questions could include, but are not be limited to:

  • Can people can be ‘nudged’ into starting new businesses? And
  • How do people feel 6-12 months after the ‘nudge’ (e.g. are they still enthused, have they started a business?)

The successful candidate is expected to leverage insights from Thaler and Sunstein (2008), who introduced nudging as a way of encouraging people to make better choices for themselves. Nudging is nowadays commonly used to prompt people to make healthier and /or more sustainable choices, however few studies have considered whether nudging can be used to encourage start-ups. Recently, Neergaard et al.'s (2021) implemented pedagogical nudging techniques in entrepreneurship research and the successful candidate would be expected to extend Neergaard et al.’s (2021) research to create concrete outcomes, such as prompting youth and/or unemployed people to start their own business.

The successful candidate would be expected to consider ways of following up on those who participated in the ‘nudge’, to determine if changes to attitudes/behaviours remain after a sustained period of time. This will likely require skills in survey design, and analysis.

Insights should ultimately help identify particular types of ‘nudges’ that lead to sustainable business ventures in regional areas (such as Tasmania) where traditional job opportunities are constrained.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Roshni Narendran


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements and the following additional eligibility criteria specific to this project:

  • Applicants must have been awarded a First Class or Second Class (Uppers) Honours Degree, or a research Masters Degree, in a relevant area

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Excellent written and verbal English and scientific communication skills

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience in conducting empirical research and knowledge of behavioural and/or experimental economics

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Roshni Narendran, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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