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.

Bernstein, S., Mehta, K., Townsend, R.R., & Xu T.

This study analyses a field experiment conducted on AngelList Talent, a large online search platform for startup jobs.


We analyze, benchmark, and run randomized controlled trials on a panel of 7,463 U.S. entrepreneurs making incentivized sales forecasts. We assess accuracy using a novel administrative dataset obtained in collaboration with a leading US payment processing firm. At baseline, only 13% of entrepreneurs can forecast their firm’s sales in the next three months within 10% of the realized value, with 7.3% of the mean squared error attributable to bias and the remaining 92.7% attributable to noise.

McKenzie, D., Mohpal, A., Yang D.

This randomised experiment tested the impact of exogenously inducing higher financial aspirations among poor entrepreneurs.

Janes, L., Koelle, M., Quinn, S.

Do capital grants improve microenterprise productivity? We use the lens of a production function to re-examine two previous randomised controlled trials that allocated capital to microenterprises. We find that productivity is higher for treated firms, and accounts for about 20-30 percent of the revenue effects of capital grants. Although long-run estimates are noisy, point estimates indicate that these productivity effects are sustained six years after the grants.

de Mel, S., McKenzie, D., Woodruff, C.

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.

Minni, V., Bandiera, O., Ashraf, N.

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.

Tobro, T., Ulltveit-Moe, K., H., Moxnes, A.

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? 

De Mel, S., McKenzie, D., Woodruff, C.

This paper discusses the development of a model contract to make self-liquidating, quasi-equity investments in microenterprises.

Graff Zivin, J., Lyons, E.

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.

Ebert, C., Prabhu, J., KC, R.

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.

Martínez A., C., Puentes, E., Ruiz-Tagle, J.

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.

Shamdasani Y., Kaur S., Breza, E.

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.

Mas, A., Pallais, A.

We employ a discrete choice experiment in the employment process for a national call center to estimate the willingness to pay distribution for alternative work arrangements relative to traditional office positions. Most workers are not willing to pay for scheduling flexibility, though a tail of workers with high valuations allows for sizable compensating differentials. The average worker is willing to give up 20 percent of wages to avoid a schedule set by an employer on short notice, and 8 percent for the option to work from home.

Khashabi, P., Heinz, M., Zubanov, N., Kretschmer, T., Friebel, G.

It is well-established that the effectiveness of pay-for-performance (PfP) schemes depends on employee- and organization-specific factors. However, less is known about the role of external forces. Investigating the role of market competition on the effectiveness of PfP, we theorize that there are two counteracting effects – business stealing and competitor response – that jointly generate an inverted U-shape relationship between PfP effectiveness and competition.

Blasco, A., Jung, O., Lakhani, K.R., Menietti, M.

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.

Schaner, S.

I use a field experiment in rural Kenya to study how temporary incentives to save impact long run economic outcomes. Study participants randomly selected to receive large temporary interest rates on an individual bank account had significantly more income and assets 2.5 years after the interest rates expired. These changes are much larger than the short-run impacts on experimental bank account use and almost entirely driven by growth in entrepreneurship.

Phipps, J., Watkins, G., Johnson, A., Khan, K.

The Growth Impact Pilot, launched in April 2014, is a research project on the impact of business advice (coaching), supported by the UK Government. The Growth Impact Pilot will assess whether the provision of Growth Accelerator coaching is the reason why firms on the service achieve high rates of growth, or whether this growth would have happened anyway. It is designed to assess the impact of coaching by comparing two groups:

Boudreau, K., Lakhani, K.

Workers who sort into institutional settings they prefer may work twice (or many more times) as hard in these preferred settings. This productivity effect is especially important in institutional settings where a taste for competition is strongest.

Schneider, C.

The policy measure aims at an increased R&D and innovation capabilities of SMEs by fostering collaboration with public research institutions and RTOs, improving knowledge transfer and by strengthening quality and relevance of public R&D. The Innovation Voucher has been introduced to inspire SMEs to utilise the opportunities and potential of knowledge institutions. At the same time, the Innovation Voucher Scheme is expected to enhance the awareness at knowledge institutions of the need for knowledge and thus secure the quality and societal relevance of public research.

Rahman, A.

Firms may face short term barriers when deciding to become exporters. Their production costs may be too high to compete with international prices, or they may perceive quality standard testing to be too risky of an investment. At the same time, the Tunisian government is keen to see more firms become exporters, tapping into international markets for further growth. The government wishes to see its firms produce higher value-added goods.

Celhay, P., Gertler, P., Giovagnoli, P., Vermeersch, C.

The adoption of new clinical practice patterns by medical care providers is often challenging, even when they are believed to be both efficacious and profitable. This paper uses a randomized field experiment to examine the effects of temporary financial incentives paid to medical care clinics for the initiation of prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy. The rate of early initiation of prenatal care was 34% higher in the treatment group than in the control group while the incentives were being paid, and this effect persisted at least 24 months or more after the incentives ended.

Heite, J., Rosendahl Huber L., Kleine, M.

The Innovation Voucher Program analyzed in this study operates as a randomized controlled trial (RCT). This allows estimating the causal effect of the voucher on innovation and growth measures of beneficiaries, as well as their business outcomes in general. As a result, the evidence might be used to enhance voucher schemes and to provide further policy advice on how to effectively support small and medium-sized enterprises and their innovation activities in the future.

Sanders, M.

Small businesses that seek and obtain strategic business advice are more likely to thrive and grow. Advice can increase productivity, drive sales and improve the chance of survival in tough economic times. Yet as many as three in every ten small businesses in the UK may have an unmet need for business advice . And to date, available evidence does not establish a causal link between business advice and higher growth for small businesses.

Levitt, S., and Neckermann, S.

This meta-analysis of field experimental evidence on firm-employee relationships finds strong evidence that financial incentive increase output, and that non-financial approaches and social relations also have important impacts. However, many important topics have not been studied yet using field experiments, including recruiting, worker promotion, and training.

Bareket-Bojmel, L., Hochman, G., Ariely, D.

In the context of a semiconductor factory in Israel, experimenting with different types of incentives yielded results that provide some guidance for organisations trying to motivate their employees, showing that incentives of small magnitude can motivate employees to perform better at low or insignificant cost. Also, simply allowing employees to choose their preferred form of incentive can neutralize the possible negative effect of cash bonuses on intrinsic motivation.

Dupas, P.

A randomised field experiment in Kenya uses differing levels of subsidies for an innovative bed net to suggest that temporary subsidies help short-term adoption rates of new (health) technologies and can perhaps have an effect on long-term adoption rates due to the learning experience.

Bakhshi, H., Edwards, J., Roper, S., Scully, J., Shaw, D., Morley, L., Rathbone, N.

A voucher programme for SMEs in Manchester, UK, to invest in creative projects showed significant positive, but short-term, effects on innovation and sales growth.

Dohmen, T., Armin, F.

In this lab experiment intended to recreate sorting into jobs and productivity in those jobs within the labour market, there is stong evidence of multidimensional sorting, including gender, risk attitudes, and productivity. Therefore, firms should consider both effort effects and the self-selection of different types of workers.

Bandiera, O., Barankay, I., Rasul, I.

In the context of a fruit producer in the UK, social connections increase productivity of connected workers, but their effect on the allocation of managerial effort hinders firm productivity under fixed wages. Thus managerial behaviour is shaped by both social connections with subordinates and monetary incentives. In this setting, it is in the firm's best interest to foster social ties between management and workers, but to introduce monetary incentives to achieve an efficient interplay between social relationships and incentives.

de Mel, S., McKenzie, D., Woodruff, C.

In the context of microfinance in Sri Lanka, high variance in returns may limit the willingness of banks to lend to microenterprises, but it remains a puzzle why incremental growth and reinvestment remains such a challenges as many firms have exhibited a high level of returns.