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Meet Sheheryar Banuri

Welcome to the website of Sheheryar Banuri, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of East Anglia (UEA). With experience as a lecturer, consultant and author, he has developed a reputation as an expert on behavioral economics, with contributions to topics in labor, health, corruption, compliance, and finance.

As a scholar practitioner, Sheheryar helps organizations improve their operations and impact, achieve their goals, and generate knowledge, using behavioral insights, academic research, and industry practices.

 
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The creative academic

Sheheryar is a behavioral economist and an expert on motivation and incentives, behavior, and public policy. He has made contributions in several areas, including labor, health, education, and finance.  His policy work has provided guidance to the governments of Indonesia, the Philippines, and Burkina Faso.


His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Social Science and Medicine, the European Economic Review, the World Bank Economic Review, and Social Choice and Welfare (among others). He has been interviewed about his work by a number of news outlets, both in the UK and internationally (including the BBC and Sky News). 

He has authored a number of policy briefs and is coauthor of the World Bank’s World Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and Behavior, and the author of Good Decisions for Strange Situations.

He has given talks at various international organizations, including the OECD, the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the FCDO (UK), the German Evaluation Institute (Deval), and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). He has served as consultant to organizations such as the World Bank, and to governments such as Indonesia and Burkina Faso.

Sheheryar lives in Norwich, UK, with his wife, daughter, and cat. He is currently working on his second book "The Decisive Mind" (coming in 2023) and is revising his working papers.  He is an avid gamer, and enjoys hiking and team sports.  

 

Over his career, Sheheryar Banuri has written and collaborated on some longer form texts in the domain of decision making, and behavioral development economics (notable for mainstreaming behavioral science at the World Bank).  His second solo-authored book is due to be released in 2023, titled "The Decisive Mind," published by Hodder and Stoughton.

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Good decisions are hard to make - agreed? Whether it's deciding what kind of take-away to order, what brand of shampoo to buy, or what to do in a crisis, we've all been in situations where we panic or overthink.

And now, more than ever, we are in unfamiliar territory. Our routines and norms have been completely disrupted, replaced by stress and anxiety and making a good decision is harder than ever.

But this book is here to help. Behavioural Economist Dr Sheheryar Banuri will be your guide. By asking: What can we learn from past behaviour in similar crises? How does the psychology of decision-making change under stress? And how can we avoid making the wrong decisions? Good Decisions for Strange Situations is that fool-proof guide to help you give yourself the best possible chance of choosing wisely.

Banuri, S. Good decisions for strange situations. 2020. Hoddor and Stoughton Press.

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Development economics and policy are due for a redesign. In the past few decades, research from across the natural and social sciences has provided stunning insight into the way people think and make decisions. Whereas the first generation of development policy was based on the assumption that humans make decisions deliberatively and independently, and on the basis of consistent and self-interested preferences, recent research shows that decision making rarely proceeds this way. People think automatically: when deciding, they usually draw on what comes to mind effortlessly. People also think socially: social norms guide much of behavior, and many people prefer to cooperate as long as others are doing their share. And people think with mental models: what they perceive and how they interpret it depend on concepts and worldviews drawn from their societies and from shared histories.

The World Development Report 2015 offers a concrete look at how these insights apply to development policy. It shows how a richer view of human behavior can help achieve development goals in many areas, including early childhood development, household finance, productivity, health, and climate change. It also shows how a more subtle view of human behavior provides new tools for interventions. Making even minor adjustments to a decisionmaking context, designing interventions based on an understanding of social preferences, and exposing individuals to new experiences and ways of thinking may enable people to improve their lives.

World Bank. 2015. World Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and Behavior. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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Coming soon!

 
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Sheheryar Banuri has been published in a number of leading journals and periodicals and has gained a name as a leading voice in his field. He has been privileged to collaborate with some highly influential senior academics.

2022

Banuri, Sheheryar, Catherine Eckel, and Rick Wilson. 2022. “Does Cronyism Pay? Costly Ingroup Favoritism in the Lab.” Forthcoming at Economic Inquiry.

Care provision: An experimental investigation

2019

Banuri, Sheheryar, Angela de Oliveira, and Catherine Eckel. 2019. “Care provision: An experimental investigation.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 157, p. 615-630.

2019

Banuri, Sheheryar, Stefan Dercon, and Varun Gauri. 2019. “Biased policy professionals.” World Bank Economic Review, 33, 2, p. 310-327.

2019

Batrancea, Larissa, Anca Nichita, Jerome Olsen…, Sheheryar Banuri, … et al. 2019. “Trust and power as determinants of tax compliance across 44 nations.” Journal of Economic Psychology 74: 102191.

2018

Banuri, Sheheryar, Damien de Walque, Philip Keefer, Haidara O. Diadie, Paul J. Robyn, and Maurice Ye. 2018. “The use of video vignettes to measure health worker knowledge. Evidence from Burkina Faso.” Social Science & Medicine, vol 213, pp. 173-180.

2016

Banuri, Sheheryar, and Philip Keefer. 2016. “Pro-social motivation, effort, and the call to public service.” European Economic Review, vol 83, pp. 139-164.

2015

Hausman, Kjell, Sheheryar Banuri, Dipak Gupta, and Klaus Abbink. 2015. “Al Qaeda in a bar: Composition and evolution of terrorist organizations.” Public Choice, vol 164(1-2), 57-73.

2015

Banuri, Sheheryar, and Catherine Eckel. 2015. “Cracking down on bribery.”  Social Choice and Welfare, vol 45(3), pp.579-600.

2014

Lucas, Pablo, Angela de Oliveira, and Sheheryar Banuri. 2014. “The effects of group composition and social preference heterogeneity in a public goods game: An agent-based simulation.” Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol 17(3)5.

 
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Below, please find some of Sheheryar's favorite and more cutting edge pieces.

 

2021

Banuri, Sheheryar. 2021. “A Behavioural Economics Perspective on Compliance,” in A. Riley, A. Stephan, A. Tubbs (eds.) Perspectives on Antitrust Compliance, Concurrences.

2016

Banuri, Sheheryar, and Philip Keefer. 2016. “Mellowing with tenure? Socialization increases prosocial behavior in public organizations,” in S.J. Goerg and J. Hamman (eds.) Experiments in Organizational Economics, Research in Experimental Economics volume 19, Emerald Group Publishing.

2012

Banuri, Sheheryar, and Catherine Eckel. 2012. “Experiments in culture and corruption: A review,” in Danila Serra and Leonard Wantchekon (eds.) New Advances in Experimental Research on Corruption, Research in Experimental Economics volume 15, Emerald Group Publishing.

Below is some of Sheheryar's work that has provided guidance to governments and international organizations. Some of these may still be confidential. Please contact us directly if you need access to something that is not linked to below.

Attitudes and perceptions of the World Bank Group staff towards the Sustainable Development Goals

2022 (Confidential)

Banuri, Sheheryar, and Varun Gauri. 2018. “Attitudes and perceptions of the World Bank Group staff towards the Sustainable Development Goals.” Mimeo.

2017

Banuri, Sheheryar, David Bulman, Luis F. Lopez-Calva, Ezequiel Molina, Abla Safir, and Siddharth Sharma. 2017. “The governance game” - Background paper for the 2017 World Development Report: Governance and the Law.

2016

Banuri, Sheheryar. 2016. “Information and communication technologies, gamification, and public-sector applications” – Background paper for the 2016 World Development Report: Digital Dividends.

Pay reform and government performance in the Philippines

2014 (Confidential)

Banuri, Sheheryar, and Zahid Hasnain. 2014. “Pay reform and government performance in the Philippines.” Mimeo.

Lessons for Bureaucracy Reform from a survey of Indonesian public officials

2013 (Confidential)

Banuri, Sheheryar, Philip Keefer, and Matthew Kearney. 2013. “Lessons for Bureaucracy Reform from a survey of Indonesian public officials.” Mimeo.

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In this section, please find some of Sheheryar's latest work, which is subject to change.  Please do not cite without permission, and please email for any papers that are not linked to below.

 
I went to a Renwick Gallery in DC during lunch time and was excited about the stacks of pa

Attracting honest workers: Organizational culture, corruption, and worker preferences

2022 (Coming soon!)

Banuri, Sheheryar. “Attracting honest workers: Organizational culture, corruption, and worker preferences” Invited chapter in C.K. Jha; A. Mishra, S. Sarangi (eds.) Revisiting Corruption: Emerging Issues, Emerald Group Publishing.

Last revised: 2021

Ahmed, Husnain, Sheheryar Banuri, and Farasat Bokhari. 2021. “Discrimination in healthcare: A field experiment with Pakistan’s Transgender community.” Mimeo.

2021

Malhi, Fareena N., Zehra Aftab, and Sheheryar Banuri. 2021. “When norms collide: The effect of religious holidays on compliance with COVID guidelines.” Mimeo.

2021

Banuri, Sheheryar, and Ha Nguyen. 2021. “Borrowing to keep up (with the Joneses): Inequality, debt, and conspicuous consumption.” Mimeo.

Last revised: 2021

Banuri, Sheheryar, Damien de Walque, Philip Keefer, and Paul Jacob Robyn. 2021. “Encouraging service delivery to the poor:  Does money talk when health workers are pro-poor?” Mimeo.

Last revised: 2021

Banuri, Sheheryar, Philip Keefer, and Damien de Walque. 2020. “Love the job... or the patient?  Task vs. mission-based motivations in healthcare.” Mimeo.

Last revised: 2020

Banuri, Sheheryar, Katarina Dankova, and Philip Keefer. 2020. “It’s not all fun and games: Feedback, purpose, and effort.” Mimeo.

Last revised: 2018

Banuri, Sheheryar, and Philip Keefer. 2018. “Was Weber right?  The effects of pay for ability and pay for performance on pro-social motivation, ability and effort in the public sector.” Mimeo.

On the effects of culture on punishment of bribery: US vs. Pakistan

Last revised: 2014 (Contact for a copy)

Banuri, Sheheryar, and Catherine Eckel. 2014. “On the effects of culture on punishment of bribery: US vs. Pakistan.”

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Below please find Sheheryar's employment history. Click the button at the bottom to view a full copy of his latest CV.

Asst. / Assoc. Professor (University of East Anglia)

August 2015 - Present

Besides numerous research activities (see publications), have held a number of leadership positions within the school, including director of PhD admissions, Lab director of the CBESS/LEDR behavioral research lab, and managing the departmental seminar series.  I lead the master’s program in Behavioral and Experimental Economics.  I have carried out a number of lab and field experiments and provide support and mentoring for junior academics and PhD students.  I currently am managing a large scale field experiment in Pakistan on female mobility and working on my book “The Decisive Mind”.

Economist (World Bank Group)

June 2011 - May 2015

Designed and implemented three large scale surveys analyzing the impact of pay reforms on human resource issues in the public sector in developing countries (Indonesia and the Philippines), and on the biases of development professionals at the World Bank.  Designed and conducted experiments with Indonesian students and public officials, health workers in Burkina Faso, and disaster relief workers in the US, to examine the impact of contract structures on effort and recruitment among motivated workers. Provided intellectual support, data analysis expertise, and produced scientific papers and policy reports for the Development Economics Research and Public Sector Governance groups.

Research Assistant (University of Texas at Dallas)

August 2006 - May 2011

Recruitment coordinator and experimenter with field experiment in “Natural Disaster Preparedness in Two Small Texas Communities”. Development and programming support of “Loving the Longshot: Risk-Taking and Skewed Gambles,” and the Wireless Interactive Teaching System (WITS). Logistics support with field experiments in Fair Park, neighborhood of Dallas, TX, “Publicly Driven Investment, Neighborhood Change, and Household Behavior”.

Project Manager

August 2001 - August 2006

Developed applications and financial models to automate the end of month revenue journals and billing revenue reporting functions. Duties included serving as specific point of contact for preparing financial reports, providing back-end database support for data related revenues, implementation of processes for automating billing audits, designing standard billing inquiry applications. Projected savings to AT&T approximated $60M p.a.

 
 
Lahore Policy Exchange: Who watches the watchmen? Biases of policy professionals
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Consortium for Development Policy Research

Lahore Policy Exchange: Who watches the watchmen? Biases of policy professionals

Date: Friday, 9th February. The Consortium for Development Policy Research hosted a Lahore Policy Exchange, titled "Who watches the watchmen? Biases of policy professionals and how to mitigate them". Policy professionals play a central role in translating data and research into policy options and in guiding decision-making. Policy professionals are contractually obligated to engage with data objectively and impartially to achieve optimum policy outcomes. Underlying the evidence revolution in development economics is an assumption that policy makers can put this evidence to use. However, a vast literature from Psychology and Economics demonstrates how difficult it is to disentangle decisions from biases and how decisions do not follow from data in a straight forward manner. Using the context of health and poverty, coupled with data from samples from elite institutions, the following speakers will discuss how biases stem from having a particular worldview, often with ideological origins; how they translate into decisions; how policy makers face structural and analytical constraints in using evidence; and measures policy professionals can use to mitigate the impact of biases and other constraints on decisions. Speakers: 1. Sheheryar Banuri (Development Economist and Lecturer at the University of East Anglia) – presented his research on the issue of biased policy making using examples of the Ebola crisis and support for minimum wage laws. 2. Salman Siddique (Former Bureaucrat) – discussed the implications of such biases for policy making in Pakistan. 3. Asad Liaqat (PhD Candidate at Harvard University) – presented his research on the constraints that civil servants face in using evidence and how they often update their beliefs in unexpected ways when presented with evidence. Ali Cheema (Programme Director Center for Economic Research in Pakistan) provided opening remarks and moderated the discussion.
 
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Sheheryar has frequently written for, or been quoted and sought after for his thoughts and opinions on the latest news in behavioral science. Take a look through the list below to read some of the latest news and academic resources.