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Nava Ashraf
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Economics, Capitalism, Geopolitics & Globalization / Diversity, Equity & Inclusion / Human Resource Management & Talent Development / Wellness & Well-Being / Company Culture / Trust & Empathy / Women Speakers & Advisors / Psychological Safety / Sustainability, Purpose & Climate Solutions / Executive Education

Videos

  • Nava Ashraf: come migliorare la leadership e la collaborazione fra le persone in azienda
    Nava Ashraf: come migliorare la leadership e la collaborazione fra le persone in azienda
  • Nava Ashraf | The Invention of Altruism
    Nava Ashraf | The Invention of Altruism
  • LSE Research | Nava Ashraf on Altruistic Capital
    LSE Research | Nava Ashraf on Altruistic Capital
  • “Human Nature and Human Developmen” by Nava Ashraf
    “Human Nature and Human Developmen” by Nava Ashraf
  • Prof. Nava Ashraf discusses poverty and depression on BBC World News
    Prof. Nava Ashraf discusses poverty and depression on BBC World News
  • GANT Flipping The Ladder - Short Trailer
    GANT Flipping The Ladder - Short Trailer
  • GANT - Flipping The Ladder Documentary
    GANT - Flipping The Ladder Documentary
  • LSE Marshall Institute | MILS 3 2018: Altruistic Capital
    LSE Marshall Institute | MILS 3 2018: Altruistic Capital
  • 2019 BMO Public Lecture "Human Nature and Human Development" - Dr. Nava Ashraf
    2019 BMO Public Lecture "Human Nature and Human Development" - Dr. Nava Ashraf
  • Self interest of economics and the need to create happiness, Nava Ashraf keynotes at ebbf UK event
    Self interest of economics and the need to create happiness, Nava Ashraf keynotes at ebbf UK event
  • CEPR-VDEV 11 - Learning to Teach by Learning to Learn
    CEPR-VDEV 11 - Learning to Teach by Learning to Learn
  • Motivating Public Sector Workers - Nava Ashraf
    Motivating Public Sector Workers - Nava Ashraf
  • Health Workers in Zambia: Co-Producing Knowledge
    Health Workers in Zambia: Co-Producing Knowledge

Learn More About Nava Ashraf

With the “Great Resignation” impacting organizations across the world, how can leaders incentivize people to not just stay on and do good work, but to help them feel satisfied, even fulfilled, in their jobs? According to acclaimed behavioral economist Nava Ashraf, professor of economics at the London School of Economics, it’s not all about money.

Ashraf is a rigorous field researcher who has spent nearly two decades studying diverse economies, seeking to discover how to increase incentives, motivation and inclusion in organizations and communities around the world. Co-creator of the altruistic capital theory – the idea that every individual has within them an intrinsic desire to serve, an asset which can be invested in or depleted in the workplace – she helps decision-makers design incentives and environments that strengthen individual and organizational performance. Her award-winning research on public service and health delivery is particularly useful to health care and public policy leaders.

“That sense of dissonance that employees might feel within their own organizations is a lack of coherence between what they want their lives to be about, and what is actually happening in the workplace,” explains Ashraf. “We no longer want to separate our lives into ‘work is to create money’ and ‘family is to have some meaning and some love in our lives.’ Maybe we go to church and have religion to feel some connection with transcendence, purpose and meaning, and we don’t want to have work that doesn’t have meaning.”

Ashraf is best known for her work in the fields of development economics, behavioral economics and family economics, which includes finances, fertility and intra-household decision making. Working with such organizations as HSBC, Unilever, Roche and with the Ministries of Health and Education in Zambia, Uganda, and Colombia, she has collected concrete data and developed tools and insights companies can use to attract, keep and motivate talent, increase and leverage diversity, and improve collaboration and performance. As an advisor, speaker and executive educator, she helps human resource and C-suite leaders design and measure purpose-driven programs and incentives for individual and collective gains. With a deep understanding of psychology and human nature, she also highlights the link between mental health and productivity.

Ashraf’s passion for making the world a more inclusive and empathetic place was fueled by her own early experiences facing bias and exclusion as a child immigrant from Iran who grew up in Canada.

“I believe fundamentally in the oneness of humanity, but all I knew as a child was that the world could be a dangerous place for those who didn’t belong,” recalls Ashraf. “I escaped Iran with my family at 3 years old, and was the only non-white kid in my school in small town Canada for many, many years. I didn’t speak English when I first arrived, and it was horrible. That built a huge fire in me to make sure that other people didn’t have to face some of those same injustices. It was also the realization that my cousins were still in Iran under a veil, not able to study both because of their gender and their religion. I knew early on I wanted to be a voice for the voiceless.”

A steadfast advocate for gender inclusion, women’s leadership and entrepreneurship, Ashraf continues to help leaders understand the connections between altruistic capital and organizational health.

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Professor Nava Ashraf is a professor of economics at the London School of Economics. Her research, which is at the intersection of psychology and economics, uses both lab and field experiments to test insights from behavioral economics in the context of global development. She has conducted research in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Her papers are published in leading journals including the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics and the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Nava Ashraf is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Nava Ashraf was last modified: April 22nd, 2024 by Justin Louis

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Altruistic Capital: Strengthening Individual and Workplace Performance With the Right Incentives

How do companies keep employees engaged, motivated and fulfilled on the job? “Employees need to be motivated by more than self-interest and money,” says acclaimed behavioral economist Nava Ashraf, professor of economics at the London School of Economics and co-creator of the Altruistic Capital theory. In this talk, she elaborates on the concept of Altruistic Capital (the idea that every individual has within them an intrinsic desire to serve), explains its critical importance to building a strong organization and shares the results of her related field research. She then outlines tools leaders can use to design incentive programs that strengthen individual and workplace performance.

Attract and Retain Talent by Creating an Environment Where Employees Feel Fulfilled

HR leaders and talent managers have their hands full trying to combat employee turnover, especially in the face of the pandemic-fueled “Great Resignation.” Acclaimed behavioral economist Nava Ashraf, professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and co-creator of the Altruistic Capital theory, has spent years in the field and in the lab collecting concrete data and developing tools and insights companies can use to attract, keep and motivate talent. In this talk, she explains the concept and value of Altruistic Capital – the idea that every individual has within them an intrinsic desire to serve. She then shares evidence-based research talent managers can leverage to design and measure purpose-driven programs and incentives, which result in more fulfilled employees and improved retention and organizational performance. With a deep understanding of psychology and human nature, she also explains the link between mental health and productivity and how leaders can thoughtfully address related issues.

Human Nature and Decision Making: How Organizations and Policymakers Can Positively Influence Group and Individual Behavior

Behavioral economics research shows that people don’t always act in our own best interests. Biases, limits on cognition and motivations lead people from all walks of life to make suboptimal choices, explains acclaimed behavioral economist Nava Ashraf, professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and inaugural director of research at the Marshall Institute. In this talk, based on her co-generation of knowledge research, Ashraf offers participants a deep understanding of biases and limitations that may be impacting organizational and individual decisions. She then outlines incentives, behavioral nudges and other tools of psychology that managers can use to help people make better choices and behave in ways that lead to positive outcomes for the group as a whole.

Empowering Women Leaders Improves Trust and Benefits Businesses and Economies

Commerce requires trust, but trust is difficult when one group is consistently afforded more opportunities than another. Comparatively, men have more business and legal advantages than women, which results in unequal bargaining power, says acclaimed behavioral economist Nava Ashraf, professor of economics at the London School of Economics and inaugural director of research at the Marshall Institute. As a result, women often end up in lower paying jobs and have less access to leadership roles or entrepreneurial opportunities. In this talk, she discusses her field research, which shows how economies and businesses directly benefit from empowering women with the same legal and business advantages as men, and why inclusive practices help improve trust and innovation processes across an organization.

Learning to Teach by Learning to Learn

(Columbia University Press, April 2021)

The Distinctive Values of Bankers

(AEA Papers and Proceedings, May 2020)

Bride Price and Female Education

(The University of Chicago Press, January 2020)

nber-logo 2022

Rule of Law and Female Entrepreneurship

(National Bureau of Economic Research, December 2020)

Social Incentives in Organizations

(Annual Reviews, August 2018)

Altruistic Capital

(American Economic Review, 2017)

Infrastructure, Incentives, and Institutions

(American Economic Review, 2016)

A trusted advisor to C-suite executives and managers in every sector, acclaimed behavioral economist Nava Ashraf, professor of economics at the London School of Economics and inaugural director of research at the Marshall Institute, helps executives marry real-life experiences with the deep research she has conducted in the field and in the lab for nearly 20 years. Guided by her co-generation of knowledge research, she leads conversations toward solutions through a process of mutual discovery, facilitating better and deeper questions. Her virtual and in-person advisory meetings and executive education workshops can be customized to meet the needs of your organization and the size of your audience.