Be-Change - Objectives

The research hypothesis is to verify in what terms the health crisis, and the subsequent social and economic crises, can be considered as a great behavioural experiment. Covid-19 has forced everyone: individuals, groups and institutions, into a radical test of their lifestyles. This global stress test has revealed, with some terrifyingly tragic peaks, significant fragilities, both within the fabric of interpersonal relations, and within the non-quite-sustainable development models of companies, cities, and entire countries. The forced adaptation to change, both at the individual and at the collective level, was not painless. It did, however, at least bring with it the chance of a renewed awareness: the high stakes of the issue of sustainability are increasingly linked to the safeguarding a dignified existence for all, including future generations. The research "Behavioural Change" intends to seize this exceptional opportunity to test the undelayable need to adopt less self-referential lifestyles. The aim is to interpret and emphasize all the behavioral signals that indicate a better ability to cope with global shocks such as the pandemic, also thanks to the essential support of development policies that support and promote the resilience of individuals and groups.

For this purpose, we must first identify whether, and to what extent, the behavioural change we are experiencing is gradually stabilizing, transforming itself from a simple emergency tactic into a possible strategy for the future. What are the new value-driven priorities that prevail over the conventional ones? How has the perception of the risk to individual and collective health changed in relation to the prioritization of production efficiency? Are there already structured behaviours, for example at the consumer level, that we can define as "best practices,” that are more respectful of the environment and of human dignity?

There are four methodological strategies with which to verify the research hypothesis:

a) A survey, assigned to Ipsos, which will help to identify accurately the main changes in behaviour based on a representative sample of the Italian population. An in-depth analysis of teachers and entrepreneurs will provide focus on sensitive areas of everyday life experience, such as sustainable consumption practices, network uses, distance working, social and leisure activities. Seeing as the objective is to verify trends aimed at the stabilization of changes, the survey will be organized in two stages: the first at the beginning of the research (in 2021) and the second at the end of it (in 2023). 

b) A qualitative survey will be conducted, also in two stages, on some local activities (such as production, commercial and service industries, digital platforms for the sharing of goods and services, schools and tertiary associations). The objective here is to detect what changes are taking place in terms of the economy, the organization of processes, the change of business models, the management of relations with the territory, with customers and suppliers.

c) A behavioural analysis is aimed at verifying more circumscribed and decisive aspects of the change underway. In particular, the objective is to measure, for example, the effect of pandemic risk on social preferences and on individual perception and propensity to trust, the effect of lockdown on the use and effectiveness of digital teaching tools, and the possible gaps in the academic performance of students as a result of remote learning.

d) As the fourth strategy, which will be part of the university’s "third mission", the project involves: hands-on activities carried out in schools, with the support and collaboration of the Guidance Office workshops in companies of different types with the participation of corporate stakeholders (managers of HR and corporate welfare and employees) experimental workshops aimed at fostering experiences that help overcome the psychological difficulties generated by a prolonged situation of relational deprivation and mobility.