Posted by: Chris | 12/05/2009

Behavioral Economics

One of the favorite podcasts I listen to, when I walk our dog at night or on the weekend is the BBC´s Business Daily. Recently they had a very interesting feature on behavioral economics in which Dan Ariely, a professor at MIT, explained some of the irrational behaviors we demonstrate vis-a-vis money.

My dog Siba

My dog Siba

It became very clear that it is a better strategy to make employees happy by subsidizing their daily meals rather than paying the commensurate amount as part of their monthly salary.

The approach of companies that offer their employees even free meals has the added benefit that people don´t even think to leave the office in search for cheaper meals and instead continue work related discussion even during their breaks.

At the Zurich Research Lab, I have found that our famous morning coffee break is one of those occasions. While the coffee is not entirely free, people still sit together and discuss work related matters. Countless ideas for new patents, research and experiments were hatched out in our cafeteria during the last 53 years.



  1. interesting podcast, thanks for the link! perhaps it’s an even better strategy for companies to make their employees happy instead of alienating them?

    the recent world wide cuts have come over as rather petty (have a look at this australian IT news article: — the HR expert views are summarizing it up rather nicely), coupled with other measures, i’m really worried that our company might be acting a bit near-sighted.

    a bold and far-sighted step, and one entirely in-line with your blog post, would have been this reaction:

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