Inside the Political Mind w/ Greg Power

21 Feb 2024 – 17:30 - 18:30 GMT
Institute for Government
2 Carlton Gardens

Greg Power, Professor David Halpern and Professor Meg Russell join the Institute for Government to discuss how the human side of politics shapes behaviour.

Political behaviour can often look odd, idiosyncratic and entirely self-serving. Media coverage unsurprisingly tends to focus on the seedier side of politics, finding explanations in individual ambition and the pursuit of self-interest. But this overlooks the human side of why politicians do what they do and how it shapes the path of political development.

Inside the Political Mind, the new book by Greg Power, draws on Greg’s experience of working with hundreds of politicians in more than 60 countries to provide a proper understanding of political behaviour. It explores the influence of social norms, public expectations and the personal interests of MPs on how politics works, and how it might be reformed.

To mark the book’s publication, the Institute for Government is delighted to host Greg and a panel of experts to discuss how politicians’ personal interests affect the work of government – and to reveal how the seemingly strange behaviour of politicians takes on a whole new logic when viewed through the eyes of politicians themselves.

About the speakers

Rt Hon Alistair Burtformer minister at the Foreign Office and Department of Health

Professor David Halpern, President of the Behavioural Insights Team

Greg Power OBE, previously a special adviser to UK Ministers Robin Cook and Peter Hain, has been involved in constitutional and democratic change since the mid-1990s. Since 2005, his organisation, Global Partners Governance Practice, has helped to strengthen political systems across Asia, the Middle East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Professor Meg Russell, Director of the Constitution Unit

The discussion will be chaired by Dr Hannah White, Director of the Institute for Government. Refreshments will be available after the discussion, and copies of the book will be for sale.

About the book

Why have efforts to strengthen quality of governance so often failed in some of the world’s most troubled states? Because they almost always ignore the human side of politics.

Drawing on his experience of working with hundreds of politicians in more than sixty countries, Greg Power explores how social norms, public expectations and the personal interests of MPs influence the path of political development.

Where states are weak, politicians solve problems by going around the state. From Tanzania and Nepal to Iraq and Ukraine, voters actually want MPs who can find informal fixes, and a reciprocal logic holds the system in place. But this also means that weak institutions tend to stay weak.

Combining insights from behavioural economics, change management and comparative politics, this fascinating book argues for a different approach to political reform, one concerned less with institutional design and more with the existing logic of human behaviour. One that starts inside the political mind, and works outwards from there.

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