Testing whether text messages improve the effectiveness of communication with citizens: An interview with Donald Green, Professor, Columbia University – Episode #37

 Can text messages be a useful and effective way for public agencies to communicate with citizens? If so, what elements of message design, including personalization (using people’s names), are most effective? And more broadly, how can public leaders at the local, state or federal levels use rapid and low experiments to pilot potential operational improvements to their programs or agencies and rigorously test if they work?

We examine these questions with Donald Green, Professor of Political Science at Columbia University and a leading expert in the design and implementation of field experiments. He is the co-author of a recent article in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management about a large randomized trial conducted in England in 2012 to test the impact of different text messages on repayment rates for people who had delinquent fines owed to the government. The experiment was coordinated by the UK Behavioral Insights Team and an academic advisory panel, including Professor Green. 

Web extra: Donald Green discusses the potential to strengthen partnerships between academic experts and government agencies looking to design and test ways to improve their operations. [click here]