Business Audiences

Here I list several speaking topics I have developed for business audiences. In addition, I suggest you look at the speaking topics I list under general audiences, for descriptions of topics which I will gladly adapt for specific business audiences.

Behavioral Economics and Healthcare Inflation

The inexorable rise in healthcare costs is having an enormous impact on businesses throughout the developed world.  Why are healthcare costs rising so rapidly?  What behavioral phenomena, in specific, are fueling healthcare inflation?  What, if anything, can governments do to reduce expenditures?  What can businesses do?

From my unique perspective as a physician, health policy professor, and expert in behavioral economics, I lay out some of the surprising factors fueling healthcare inflation.  I discuss the latest “plans” being discussed, in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere around the world, to control healthcare costs.  And I lay out some controversial ideas about how we can get such expenditures under control.

The Advice Giver’s Brain

Giving advice is a huge part of business.  Financial advisers are hired to, of course, give people advice.  Management consultants are also brought on board to bring their unique perspective to bear on issues at hand.  Lawyers, doctors . . . all these experts are brought in not only just to give expertise, but to get expert advice.  But what happens inside our brains when we give other people advice?

As it turns out, people often recommend to others (“take the prize behind door 1”) what they wouldn’t choose for themselves (“aw heck, I’ll take my chances on door number 2”).  Once more, people are typically unaware that their advice differs from their own choices.  In other words, the psychology of advice giving is largely unconscious.

From a Nudge to a Shove:  What Governments are Doing to Combat Consumer Irrationality

Markets work best when consumers have freedom to choose among competing products based on cost and quality.  But when consumers make irrational decisions, then markets are no longer guaranteed to promote their best interests.  Indeed, when people buy mortgages they cannot afford, sign up for credit card reward programs they don’t understand, accept internet privacy settings they were unaware of, and purchase goods without recognizing their true costs, then we experience a kind of market failure.

In response, governments around the world are considering a series of new regulations, and behavioral interventions, in an attempt to make it easier for consumers to make better choices.  But does the government know best?  Shouldn’t consumers be allowed to make bad choices?

In this talk, I explore the range of interventions governments are employing to combat consumer irrationality, with a goal of helping members of the audience—whether themselves already on the left or right of the political spectrum—to rethink their assumptions about what it means for the market to help consumers improve their lot in lives.