IGL Trials Database

IGL curates a database with randomised controlled trials in the field of innovation, entrepreneurship and growth. Browse our list of topics, see it as a map, or use the search function below.

2024
Nunez-Chaim, G., Overman, H.G., Riom, C.

We evaluate the impact of the UK’s Growth Vouchers Programme, which offered subsidised business advice to 15,207 randomly selected small and medium size enterprises. Using administrative and survey data, we show that the programme increased turnover by 8.2% but only in the short-term and potentially at the expense of non-supported firms. We find that subsidised advice appears to improve firms’ capabilities and practices in a way that is consistent with the increase in turnover.

2024
Avdeenko, A., Campos, F., Chandy, R., Iacovone, L., Kala, N.

Business-science collaboration is essential for fostering innovation and economic development, particularly in rapidly evolving sectors like AI and Energy Efficiency and Sustainability. We study how to enhance the collaboration between firms and scientists given persistent barriers such as information frictions, behavioral biases, and high transaction costs. To address existing challenges, the research investigates the potential of matchmaking interventions.

2024
Azzolini, D., Doppio, N., Mion, L., Russo, I.Q., Tomelleri, A.

Innovating product design is crucial for firms operating in the digital sector as it is closely linked with innovation capability and, therefore, with firm performance and productivity. In this paper, we run a randomized controlled trial to assess if participating in an open innovation initiative increases SMEs’ capability to design more competitive digital products. More specifically, the intervention aimed at increasing firms’ knowledge of the Design Sprint and their readiness to implement user-centered design techniques.

2023
Abel, M.

First, we will recruit people to provide advice on whether to invest in actual start-up firms and to provide a justification for their decision. We create pairs of advisors that provide the same recommendation but differ by race and gender. Next, we recruit participants for the role of investors. Each participant is endowed with one dollar for each of the four investment rounds. The adviser provides her/his assessment and investment recommendation. The investor then decides how much to invest, and the outcome is revealed.

2023
Guzman, J., Oh, J.J., Sen, A.

Drawing the attention of innovators to climate change is important for green innovation. We report an email field experiment with MIT using messages about the impact of climate change to invite innovators (SBIR grantees) to apply to a technology competition. We vary our messages on the time frame and scale of the human cost of climate change across scientifically valid scenarios. Innovator attention (clicks) is sensitive to climate change messaging. These changes in clicks also predict higher application rates.

2023
Hardy, M., Kim, S., McCasland, J., Menzel, A., Witte, M.

We document interest in labor reallocation among small firm owners in Ghana; 60% and 41%, respectively, self-report willingness to hire or work for the average local firm owner. Firm owners also exhibit high willingness-to-pay for information on a random subset of hiring firms and jobseeking firm owners, during a Becker-Degroot-Marschak exercise. Conditionally random variation in access to this information generates immediate labor adjustments within and between firms, though rarely of firm owners themselves, and impacts firm closure 5-months post-intervention.

2023
Moody, A.

Can a set of low-cost behavioural nudges encourage more small businesses to adopt productivity-raising digital technologies? This randomised controlled trial sought to test whether businesses could be nudged into using a cloud-based system to improve the efficiency of invoice processing. All participants in the trial were offered access to the system free of charge for a 12-month period, with a treatment group receiving weekly email reminders to make use of the system.

2023
Bhalotra, S., Deming, D., Said, F., Vecci, J., Weidmann, B.

Effective managers play a vital role in successful teams by creating a positive and productive team environment, assigning tasks, setting clear goals and expectations, and facilitating communication and collaboration among team members. In this paper, we employ a distinctive experimental design to identify the marginal advantage of effective managers, and the specific attributes that yield the greatest benefits to team performance.

2023
Adhvaryu, A., Murathanoglu, E., Nyshadham, A.

We study the allocation and productivity consequences of training production line supervisors in soft skills via a randomized controlled trial. Consistent with standard practice for training investments within firms, we asked middle managers – who sit above supervisors in the hierarchy – to nominate members of their supervisory team for training. Program access was randomized within these recommendation rankings. Highly recommended supervisors experienced no productivity gains; in contrast, less recommended supervisors’ productivity increased 12% relative to controls.

2023
Hicken, A., Malesky, E., Nillasithanukroh, S., Taussig, M.

While evidence indicates that the notice and comment (N&C) process improves regulatory compliance by increasing trust in government, there is reason to doubt this mechanism’s viability in the digital realm. The lack of direct human interactions online can lead participating firms to feel unheard and unengaged. As a result, online N&C efforts can actually undermine firms’ views of the government’s regulatory authority and hamper efforts towards compliance.

2023
Carlos, C., Kistruck, G.M., Lount Jr, R.B., Morris, S., Thomas, T.E.

Although entrepreneurship training programs are designed to help necessity entrepreneurs acquire skills and capabilities to take entrepreneurial action, participants in these programs often fail to do so. In partnership with a local government agency, we conducted a randomized field experiment involving 165 entrepreneurs in rural Tanzania where in addition to providing technical-skills training, approximately half of the participants also received “growth mindset” psychological training.

2023
Cruz-Castro, L., Sanz-Menéndez, L.

Gender differences in research funding exist, but bias evidence is elusive and findings are contradictory. Bias has multiple dimensions, but in evaluation processes, bias would be the outcome of the reviewers’ assessment. Evidence in observational approaches is often based either on outcome distributions or on modeling bias as the residual. Causal claims are usually mixed with simple statistical associations.

2023
Fang, Z., Jia, N., Liao, C., Luo, X.

Can artificial intelligence (AI) assist human employees in increasing employee creativity? Drawing on research on AI-human collaboration, job design, and employee creativity, we examine AI assistance in the form of a sequential division of labor within organizations: in a task, AI handles the initial portion which is well-codified and repetitive, and employees focus on the subsequent portion involving higher-level problem-solving. First, we provide causal evidence from a field experiment conducted at a telemarketing company.

2023
Asanov, I., Asanov, A.-M., Åstebro, T., Buenstorf, G., Crépon, B., McKenzie, D., Flores T., F.P., Mensmann, M., Schulte, M.

Many school systems across the globe turned to online education during the COVID-19 pandemic. This context differs significantly from the prepandemic situation in which massive open online courses attracted large numbers of voluntary learners who struggled with completion. Students who are provided online courses by their high schools also have their behavior determined by actions of their teachers and school system.

2023
Meng, C.C., Mizen, P., Riley, R., Schneebacher, J.

Structured management practices are robustly correlated with superior performance, but while some firms change practices quickly, wide dispersion of management quality persists. Uniquely, combining evidence from two novel business surveys and a failed management mentoring field experiment, we observe firms’ intentions to improve their management practices and firms’ subjective barriers to improving their management practices. We find clear evidence of positive selection into a free management mentoring scheme: the worst managed firms were the least likely to seek help.

2023
Duflo, E., Keniston, D., Suri, T., Zipfel, C.

Agricultural extension programs often train a few farmers and count on diffusion through social networks for the innovation to spread. However, if markets are imperfectly integrated, this may also inflict negative externalities. In a two-step experiment of an agronomy training program among Rwandan coffee farmers, we first randomize the concentration of trainees at the village level and then randomly select within each village. Knowledge increased, and yields were 6.7% higher for trained farmers.

2023
Adhvaryu, A., Dhanaraj, S., Gade, S., Nyshadham, A.

India is host to 63 million Micro, Small and Medium scale Enterprises (MSMEs), contributing to a large share of employment, industrial output as well as high volume of emissions per unit of output. Therefore, adoption of energy efficient (EE) technologies by MSMEs is crucial in improving not only their competitiveness through cost reduction but also worker wellbeing and productivity through improvements in the work environment. Enterprise owners most often do not internalize the benefits of the latter; like productivity gains due to reduction in exposure of workers to heat, pollution etc.

2023
Giones, F., Lichius, K., Wahl, A.

Early-stage researchers (ESRs - PhDs and Post-docs) are repeatedly touted as an untapped source of high-potential entrepreneurship. However, most entrepreneurship initiatives have either focused on undergraduate students or on consolidated scientists (PIs and professors). We argue that attempts to translate these initiatives to engage early-stage researchers (ESRs) are missing the positive impact of entrepreneurship beyond the direct commercialization of scientific outputs.

2023
Brown, G., Hardy, M., Mbiti, I., McCasland, J., Salcher, I.

We use a field experiment to test whether financial incentives can improve the quality of apprenticeship training. Trainers (firm owners) in the treatment group participated in a tournament incentive scheme where they received a payment based on their apprentices’ rank-order performance on a skills assessment. Trainers in the control group received a fixed payment based on their apprentices’ participation in the assessment. Performance on the assessment was higher in the treatment group.

2023
Gupta, S.

Innovation plays a pivotal role in fostering economic growth, yet there is a limited understanding of whether it can be taught. I conduct a randomized evaluation of an education program implemented by a state government and a nonprofit organization, providing an opportunity to 6,224 8th-grade students from disadvantaged backgrounds to develop frugal innovations for global and local problems. To assess students’ innovative ability, I created a novel scale with inputs from experienced inventors and used a lab-in-the-field game from experimental economics.

2023
Bloom, N., Codreanu, M.A.

This study is focused on the relationship between borrowing constraints, access to cutting-edge technology and information about cutting-edge technology on the performance of U.S. online businesses. With the help of two large U.S. technology companies we will be able to randomize access to loans and free cloud computing credits (as well as information about the potential use of technology) to otherwise identical (generally small, but fast growing) firms, to see if they will have a causal impact on firm development.

2023
Cerda, M., Gertler, P., Higgins, S., Montoya, A.M., Parrado, E., Undurraga, R.

We conducted two randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to evaluate the impact of government-guaranteed loans offered by the Chilean and Colombian governments. The public funds of these programs greatly expanded following the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and offered loans to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to mitigate the negative impact of the shock. Through a collaboration with private banks, we launched two experiments which offered loans to a sub-set of the 10,072 Chilean and 3,079 Colombian small businesses that took part in our experiments.

2023
Hardy, M., McCasland, J.

We report the results of a field experiment that randomly placed unemployed young people as apprentices with small firms in Ghana and included no cash subsidy to firms (or workers) beyond in-kind recruitment services. Treated firms experienced increases in firm size of approximately half a worker and firm profits of approximately 10 percent for each apprentice placement offered, documenting frictions to novice hiring.

2023
Candelon, F., Dell'Acqua, F., Kellogg, K., Krayer, L., Lakhani, K.R., Lifshitz-Assaf, H., McFowland, E., Mollick, E.R., Rajendran, S.

The public release of Large Language Models (LLMs) has sparked tremendous interest in how humans will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to accomplish a variety of tasks. In our study conducted with Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm, we examine the performance implications of AI on realistic, complex, and knowledge-intensive tasks. The pre-registered experiment involved 758 consultants comprising about 7% of the individual contributor-level consultants at the company.

2023
Ashley-Timms, D., Ashley-Timms, L., Phillips, R., Tinelli, M.

Purpose

This article reports the results of a randomized field experiment that tested the effects of a new business intervention among managers of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in England.

Design/methodology/approach

Individual managers (learners) were randomly assigned in clusters (companies) to either an intervention group (265 learners; 40 SMEs) receiving a novel virtual, blended training program designed to stimulate a change in management behavior or a no-intervention group (118 learners; 22 SMEs).

2023
Goldstein, M., Lall, S., Miller, A., Montalvao, J.

Female innovators raise fewer resources from investors, even when their ventures are similar to those of all-male teams. Efforts to mitigate the disparities have typically focused on changing how founders seek investment. However, the causes of gender disparities are systemic: in uncertain contexts, evaluators value women’s competence or leadership potential lower than men’s, and investors inquire more about risks when facing female founders than males.

2023
Myers, K., Tham, W.Y.

The design of research grants has been hypothesized to be a useful tool for influencing researchers and their science. We test this by conducting two thought experiments in a nationally representative survey of academic researchers. First, we offer participants a hypothetical grant with randomized attributes and ask how the grant would influence their research strategy. Longer grants increase researchers' willingness to take risks, but only among tenured professors, which suggests that job security and grant duration are complements.

2023
Dai, W., Kim, H., Luca, M.

Measuring the returns of advertising opportunities continues to be a challenge for many businesses. We design and run a field experiment in collaboration with Yelp across 18,294 firms in the restaurant industry to understand which types of businesses gain more from digital advertising. We randomly assign 7,209 restaurants to freely receive Yelp’s standard ads package for three months. The scale of the experiment gives us a unique opportunity to assess the heterogeneity in advertising effectiveness across a variety of business attributes.

2023
Clarke, R.P., Delecourt, S., Holtz, D., Koning, R., Otis, N.G.

There is a growing belief that scalable and low-cost AI assistance can improve firm decision-making and economic performance. However, running a business involves a myriad of open-ended problems, making it hard to generalize from recent studies showing that generative AI improves performance on well-definedwriting tasks. In our field experiment with 640 Kenyan entrepreneurs, we assessed the impact of AI-generated advice on small business revenues and profits.

2023
Oh, J.J.

Whose problems do investors see as worth solving? I experimentally study how investors evaluate a startup idea based on the socioeconomic background of the founder, the target customer, and the (in)congruence between the two. I am also interested in how the socioeconomic background of investors themselves affect these evaluations. I aim to contribute to the research on diversity and inequality in entrepreneurial funding in which socioeconomic backgrounds have been relatively understudied.

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