irrational-gameA recent report from the OECD highlighted the challenges faced by the research community in disseminating their insights to the wider world, and the implications of this to the productivity of the nation.  It found that there was a huge disparity between those at the leading edge of innovation and the mainstream.

“Our research shows that the slow productivity growth of the “average” firm masks the fact that a small cadre of firms are experiencing robust gains. OECD analysis shows that the productivity of the most productive firms – those on the “global productivity frontier” in economic terms—grew steadily at an average 3.5% per year in the manufacturing sector, or double the speed of the average manufacturing firm over the same period. This gap was even more extreme in services. Private, non-financial service sector firms on the productivity frontier saw productivity growth of 5%, eclipsing the 0.3% average growth rate. Perhaps more importantly, the gap between the globally most productive firms and the rest has been increasing over time, especially in the services sector. Some firms clearly “get it” and others don’t, and the divide between the two groups is growing over time,” they say.

Central to this challenge is both the translation of findings for a wider audience, and also the marketing nous to underpin that dissemination.  This is historically something that the research community has struggled with, both in terms of spreading the word about their research and in translating the findings into something the general public can consume.

Researchers such as Dan Ariely have no such problems, with the Duke University professor expert at communicating with a lay audience.  Thus far, he has primarily used mediums such as books, blogs and presentations to disseminate the latest thinking in behavioural economics, but he has recently upped the ante with the launch of a new game that is aimed at helping children better understand human behaviour.

The Irrational Game is currently raising money on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter and the speed with which it has raised the desired amount stands testament to the desire for such products. 

The video below sees Professor Ariely talk about the game and what he hopes to achieve.  Does it provide any lessons for how you can better communicate your own research to a wider audience?