In preparation for the upcoming IGL conference and the launch of our experimentation toolkit, this blog bring forward tips for those looking at when and how RCTs can be used in the field of innovation, entrepreneurship and business growth policy.
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Back in 2015, the Canadian Prime Minister publicly released, for the first time, his instructions to all his ministers. Among these instructions, entitled mandate letters, one was particularly relevant to experimentation. It was addressed to the President of the Treasury Board of Canada, and it stated:
What are trials? This is a primer, adopted from our upcoming experimentation toolkit, answering a few basic questions on trials.
How should law and regulation cope with fast changing technologies and industries? How should they balance the risks that come with new ideas and the risks of crushing them? And how should they help to ensure that the benefits of new technologies are widely spread?
Every year we spend quite a lot of time thinking about the key challenges that innovation policymakers face. These are some of the questions that we think are important, and that we will be discussing at the IGL2017 Global Conference in Barcelona on 13-14 June:
Recent years have seen a growing interest and increasing uptake of experimental methods in government. Around the world, we see a growing number of governments taking up experimental approaches to tackle complex issues and generate better public outcomes.
There is growing public concern about the challenges the economy of the future presents. From automation to rising inequalities, governments are looking for ways to tackle these issues while rekindling growth rates that have been, in many advanced economies, sluggish.
Entrepreneurship is a major source of job creation and is considered to be an engine of economic growth and innovation. As a result, there is no shortage of initiatives to promote it. Governments across the world spend billions subsidizing entrepreneurial activities, companies increasingly introduce measures to encourage workers to engage in entrepreneurship, and investors are constantly on the lookout for potential “winners”.
Embarking on a journey of policy experimentation might be easier with just a first small step… Keen to encourage a culture of experimentation amongst policy makers, IGL has been examining the barriers that prevent its adoptions – finding that these include a reluctance to disrupt the status quo, fears of a backlash if ‘lotteries’ are used to allocate support or simply that evaluation is considered too late.
Last December we co-hosted our winter Research Meeting at Harvard Business School, together with Professors Karim Lakhani and Rembrand Koning. Over 50 researchers were welcomed for a day packed with eight presentations of early-stage, ongoing and completed randomised controlled trials (RCTs).
Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) are considered by many to be the gold standard in demonstrating the real impact of an intervention such as the introduction of a new medicine; but translating the approach to the social sciences is not without challenges. Within the field of public policy, conducting an RCT can be viewed as a challenge to traditional institutional practices, raise ethical and political concerns, and be too complex for non-expert staff to design and implement.
What prevents government agencies from making a greater use of randomised controlled trials (RCTs), as well as evidence to inform their policies? Last summer we set out to answer this question, and to try and tease out which barrier is the most important. In this blog we present the results from our survey.