Consumer watchdog seeks behavioural science guru to analyse firms’ online influence tactics

Competition and Markets Authority advertises role at head of dedicated hub which analyses ‘high-pressure’ sales ops

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The UK’s business and consumer-rights regulator is seeking “to appoint a prominent figure within the field of behavioural science” to lead the organisation’s work investigating techniques used by firms to try and influence potential customers.

The Competition and Markets Authority is recruiting for a director of its Behavioural Hub unit, which was created to “analyse techniques used by business to influence consumer behaviour”. It does so by “drawing on economics, data science and behavioural science,” according to the job advert.

The successful candidate – who will earn up to £108,000 a year – will take charge of a small team and, over the next two years, will be expected to lead an expansion to double the size of the unit to about 10 employees.

The director will assume “oversee and continuously develop the vision and strategy… including leading on the development of behavioural support for the Digital Markets Unit” that was created in late 2020 to tackle anti-competitive practices among huge tech firms.

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The specialist behavioural science team was established to reflect the CMA’s role in regulating “an increasingly digitalised world, [where] it is vital consumer interests are protected” in the face of some aggressive sales and marketing activities.

“As the complexity of investigations increases, the CMA seeks to appoint a prominent figure within the field of behavioural science to drive forward our research activities and embed behavioural science across the work of the CMA,” the advert added. “Recent work involves understanding consumers’ browser selections in our mobile browsers and cloud gaming market investigation, outlining how pressure tactics affect consumers in our online choice architecture enforcement work and exploring how behavioural insights can help maximise the impact of the CMA’s communication outreach.”

Applications for the role are open until 11.55pm on 20 March.

Shortlisted candidates will be asked to undertake a leadership assessment exercise comprised of “a one-to-one psychological assessment” involving an online questionnaire – the answers to which are then discussed in conversation with an assessor for up to two hours 

“The assessment does not lead to a pass or fail decision; rather, it is intended to highlight areas of strength and possible concerns which the panel can probe at interview,” according to the job advert.

The director is expected to follow a hybrid working model in which they will spend at least half of their working life at their office base, which could be located at one of the regulator’s facilities in Cardiff, London, Manchester, Edinburgh, or Belfast.

Sam Trendall

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