Increasing evidence indicates the importance of management in determining firms’ productivity. Yet, causal evidence regarding the effectiveness of management practices is scarce, especially for high-skilled workers in the developed world. In an eight-month field experiment measuring the productivity of captains in the commercial aviation sector, we test four distinct management practices: (i) performance monitoring; (ii) performance feedback; (iii) target setting; and (iv) pro-social incentives.
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.
Lack of secular economic opportunity is believed to be related to social unrest, engagement in terrorism, and association with radical groups. In conflict areas, difficulties accessing economic opportunity and employment are often exacerbated by movement restrictions and investor concerns about safety of physical plant and other capital investments that might enhance employment opportunities. Recent advances in cloud-computing and software-driven services present the promise of a solution through cloud-based entrepreneurial activity.
The engagement with industry actors is a key element in the transition towards an entrepreneurial university model. The purpose of this paper is to explore the university–industry collaboration (UIC) drivers from the industry side. It analyses how, and to what extent, policy interventions could increase the engagement of industry actors in UICs.
One of the most universal trends in science and technology today is the growth of large teams in all areas, as solitary researchers and small teams diminish in prevalence. Increases in team size have been attributed to the specialization of scientific activities3, improvements in communication technology, or the complexity of modern problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. This shift in team size raises the question of whether and how the character of the science and technology produced by large teams differs from that of small teams.
What is the effect of exposing motivated youth to firm management in practice? To answer this question, we place young professionals for one month in established firms to shadow middle managers. Using random assignment into program participation, we find positive average effects on wage employment, but no average effect on the likelihood of self-employment. Within the treatment group, we match individuals and firms in batches using a deferred-acceptance algorithm. We show how this allows us to identify heterogeneous treatment effects by firm and intern.
We assess whether imperfect knowledge of labor regulation hinders job creation at small and medium-sized firms. We partner with a labor law expert in South Africa that provides information to local firms about major topics regarding labor regulation via newsletters and access to a specialized website. We randomly assign 1800 firms to receive free access to this information service for a 21-week period. Three-quarters of the firms offered the service took it up.
A randomized control trial with 945 entrepreneurs in Jamaica shows positive shortterm impacts of soft-skills training on business outcomes. The effects are concentrated among men, and disappear twelve months after the training. We argue that the main channel is increased adoption of recommended business practices, exclusively observed in the short run. We see persistent effects on an incentivized behavioral measure of perseverance after setbacks, a focus of this training.
We study gender and race in high-impact entrepreneurship within a tightly controlled random field experiment. We sent out 80,000 pitch emails introducing promising but fictitious start-ups to 28,000 venture capitalists and business angels. Each email was sent by a fictitious entrepreneur with a randomly selected gender (male or female) and race (Asian or White). Female entrepreneurs received an 8% higher rate of interested replies than male entrepreneurs pitching identical projects. Asian entrepreneurs received a 6% higher rate than White entrepreneurs.
Differences in productivity may be driven by heterogeneity in skills but also the extent to which individuals are motivated to do their job over and above financial compensation. The proposed research will unpack the sources of intrinsic motivation and test whether these can be leveraged to increase productivity. To do so we will run a cross-country field experiment in collaboration with a multinational company that offers one-day workshops that guide employees on how to connect their individual purpose with their work.
Despite mounting interest in growth mindset interventions, this approach has yet to be applied to the domain of entrepreneurship. In the present research, we developed and tested if a growth mindset intervention could be leveraged to promote students’ entrepreneurial self-efficacy and if this, in turn, predicted career development (i.e., academic interest, career interest, task persistence, and academic performance). We report on our findings, from an Open Science Framework (OSF) preregistered study, that is a randomized controlled trial implementing a growth mindset intervention.
This study is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) on the effects of mentoring on SMEs in Norway. We aim to get a better understanding of firm development and dynamics in the presence of public interventions. Does mentoring affect firm performance and firm-survival? Does it matter what type of state aid a firm is granted; mentoring versus the financial equivalent of the service?
A field experiment in Sri Lanka provided wage subsidies to randomly chosen microenterprises to test whether hiring additional labor benefits such firms, and whether a short-term subsidy can have a lasting impact on firm employment. Using 12 rounds of surveys to track dynamics four years after treatment, we find that firms increased employment during the subsidy period. Treated firms were more likely to survive, but there was no lasting impact on employment, and no effect on profitability or sales either during or after the subsidy period.
Differences in management quality are an important contributor to productivity differences across countries. A key question is then how to best improve poor management in developing countries. We test two different approaches to improving management in Colombian auto parts firms. The first uses intensive and expensive one-on-one consulting, while the second draws on agricultural extension approaches to provide consulting to small groups of firms at approximately one-third of the cost of the individual approach.
Examines a program in Benin that drastically reduces costs to formalize a business, while also offering tax mediation and training. Results forthcoming.
What determines the adoption of electronic-payment instruments? Do these instruments impact business outcomes, in particular access to finance? To shed light on these questions, we conducted a Randomized-Controlled-Trial with Kenyan SMEs. Our experiment released barriers to adopt a novel payment instrument. We uncover that the adoption barriers were binding for a large portion of the firms and that firms' financial transparency interacted with the decision to adopt. After sixteen months, treated businesses were more likely to feel safe and had more loans.
This paper studies whether small-scale businesses can learn and adopt protable practices of their successful peers. We identify such practices through a detailed business survey in urban Indonesia and disseminate the information to a randomly selected sample of small retailers through a professionally developed handbook. An orthogonal subgroup is provided additional support through business role models, and another through individualized business counseling. We find a significant increase in the adoption of profitable practices in all sub-groups of retailers.
We investigate the impact of a program providing asset transfers and business training to low income individuals in Chile, and asked whether a larger asset transfer would magnify the program's impact. We randomly assigned participation in a large scale, publicly run micro-entrepreneurship program and evaluated its effects over 45 months. The program improved business practices, employment, and labor income. In the short run, self-employment increased by 14.8/25.2 percentage points for a small/large asset transfer.
As the largest encyclopedia in the world, it is not surprising that Wikipedia reflects the state of scientific knowledge. However, Wikipedia is also one of the most accessed websites in the world, including by scientists, which suggests that it also has the potential to shape science. This paper shows that it does. Incorporating ideas into Wikipedia leads to those ideas being used more in the scientific literature.
Using a randomized experiment in Chile we study the impact role models have in the context of a training program for micro-entrepreneurs. We show that being in a group randomly chosen to be visited by a successful alumnus of the program increases household income one year after, mostly due to increased business participation and business income.
This study draws on social learning theory and research concerning role model effects to understand how exposure to female entrepreneurial role models influences the development of entrepreneurial self-efficacy, attitudes and intentions among female students. We present results from a field experiment including data from 547 students and 98 entrepreneurs.
Many innovative start-ups and small and medium-size enterprises have good ideas, but do not have these ideas fine-tuned to the stage where they can attract outside funding. Investment readiness programs attempt to help firms to become ready to attract and accept outside equity funding through a combination of training, mentoring, master classes, and networking.
Effects of relative pay on effort and labour supply are being examined in the context of an Indian manufacturing plant where co-workers' wages are exogenously varied. Results forthcoming.
We design two laboratory experiments to analyze the causal effects of competition on step-by-step innovation. Innovations result from costly R&D investments and move technology up one step. Competition is inversely measured by the ex post rents for firms that operate at the same technological level, that is, for neck-and-neck firms. First, we find that increased competition leads to a significant increase in R&D investments by neck-and-neck firms.
A classical approach to collecting and elaborating information to make entrepreneurial decisions combines search heuristics such as trial and error, effectuation, and confirmatory search. This paper develops a framework for exploring the implications of a more scientific approach to entrepreneurial decision making. The panel sample of our randomized control trial includes 116 Italian startups and 16 data points over a period of about one year.
Existing theories and empirical research on how innovation occurs largely assume that innovativeness is an inherent characteristic of the individual and that people with this innate ability select into jobs that require it. In this paper, we investigate whether people who do not self-select into being innovators can be induced to innovate, and whether they innovate differently than those who do self-select into innovating.
This study explores how individuals develop habitual perspectives from repetitive tasks they enact over time, and how these deeply ingrained habits of perspective influence creativity. Further, this study proposes that habits of perspective are resistant to the creativity-stunting effect of financial incentives.
We use a randomized controlled trial to demonstrate that inexperienced female microenterprise owners in a Kenyan slum benefit from mentorship by an experienced entrepreneur in the same community. Mentorship increases profits by 20 percent on average with initially large effects that fade as matches dissolve. We conduct a formal business education intervention, which has no effect on profits despite changes in business practice.
While management styles and practices have been found to be important determinants of firm performance, there is far less evidence on the extent to which management matters for entrepreneurial ventures and whether founders can learn to be more effective managers.
Almost all firms in developing countries have fewer than ten workers, with a modal size of one. Are there potential high-growth entrepreneurs, and can public policy help identify them and facilitate their growth? A large-scale national business plan competition in Nigeria provides evidence on these questions. Random assignment of US$34 million in grants provided each winner with approximately US$50,000.
We report results of a natural field experiment conducted at a medical organization that sought contribution of public goods (i.e., projects for organizational improvement) from its 1200 employees. Offering a prize for winning submissions boosted participation by 85 percent without affecting the quality of the submissions. The effect was consistent across gender and job type. We posit that the allure of a prize, in combination with mission-oriented preferences, drove participation.