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.
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.
We evaluate the impact of a training program aimed at improving the relational atmosphere in the workplace. The program encourages prosocial behavior and the use of professional language, focusing primarily on leaders’ behavior and leader-subordinate interactions. We implement this program using a clustered randomized design involving over 3,000 headquarters employees of 20 large corporations in Turkey. We evaluate the program with respect to employee separation, pro- and antisocial behavior, the prevalence of support networks, and perceived workplace climate.
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.
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).
Effective workplace management plays a crucial role in determining employee performance, retention, and subsequently, overall firm performance. While conventional management strategies often emphasize hierarchical relationships, peer-to-peer management, or "managing across," represents a promising yet largely unexplored approach. This study aims to investigate the impact of peer-to-peer management training on various employee outcomes and identify the conditions under which the intervention proves most effective.
Management strategies significantly influence worker productivity, retention, career growth, and the overall performance of a firm. Traditional top-down approaches have typically underscored the importance of supervisors in shaping managerial quality and employee performance. Much research suggests that training supervisors to effectively manage their subordinates may be a useful way to enhance supervisor-worker relationships and, in turn, boost firm productivity. However, these approaches may face two primary challenges.
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.
This paper tests whether providing more information on business practices can lead firms to seek out advice and improve their practices. The authors collaborated with a business advice provider in Brazil to implement a randomized experiment with 866 small firms. The treatment groups received different versions of an information sheet that benchmarked business practices to other firms and listed five practices to improve.
What is preventing entrepreneurs and managers from forming peer connections themselves? This paper argues that entrepreneurs may be under-networked because they lack the necessary social skills that allow them to match efficiently with knowledgeable peers.
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.
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 examine the influence of physical proximity on between-startup knowledge spillovers at one of the largest technology co-working hubs in the United States. Relying on the random assignment of office space to the hub's 251 startups, we find that proximity positively influences knowledge spillovers as proxied by the likelihood of adopting an upstream web technology already used by a peer startup.
We study direct productivity changes and spillovers after a randomized training program for the frontline workers in a Colombian government agency. While trained workers improved their individual production, we also find substantial spillovers that affected managers' productivity. We use email data and a survey to explore the mechanisms behind these spillovers and find that managers' increased output arises from reductions in the need to help lower level employees.
This study asks why more small firms in developing countries do not use the market for professional business services like accounting, marketing, and human resource specialists and asks how this could be altered.
This project evaluated the impact of a program aiming to improve the workplace climate in corporations.
The model shows that managers and entrepreneurs make better decisions under uncertainty if they adopt a scientific approach in which they formulate and test theories.
This paper discusses implementing a lab-in-the-field experiment with 334 Turkish loan officers to test for the presence, and learn about the mechanisms, of gender discrimination in small business lending.
The use of machine learning (ML) for productivity in the knowledge economy requires considerations of important biases that may arise from ML predictions. We define a new source of bias related to incompleteness in real time inputs, which may result from strategic behavior by agents. We theorize that domain expertise of users can complement ML by mitigating this bias. Our observational and experimental analyses in the patent examination context support this conjecture.
In this paper, a randomised experiment measures the effects of workers at an automobile manufacturing firm evaluating their managers on worker and firm outcomes.
This paper asks to what extent firms are aware of readily available information on key competitor decisions, and how this information impacts firms’ strategic choices.
This paper evaluates the effect of joint tasks on the creation of network ties with data from a novel field experiment with 112 aspiring entrepreneurs.
Cavendish Enterprise's Business Boost trial project involved providing young small firms - typically micro-businesses - with a treatment involving a series of workshops designed to enhance productivity. This was provided largely as a top-up to an advice and mentoring programme called 'Start and Grow'. The project was part of the government's Business Basics Programme which has the core aim of identifying cost effective, yet productivity enhancing, programmes of business support for SMEs which can be run at scale throughout the country.
Indian weaving firms are visited again nine years after a randomized experiment that changed their management practices.
We investigate how knowledge similarity between two individuals is systematically related to the likelihood that a serendipitous encounter results in knowledge production. We conduct a field experiment at a medical research symposium, where we exogenously varied opportunities for face-to-face encounters among 15,817 scientist-pairs. Our data include direct observations of interaction patterns collected using sociometric badges, and detailed, longitudinal data of the scientists' postsymposium publication records over 6 years.
This field experiment was conducted in a sales firm to test whether improving knowledge flows between coworkers affects productivity.
Unlike many other studies, this trial is an impact assessment of training programs that covered quality control and production management as the training topics in addition to entrepreneurship, marketing, and record keeping.
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.
This paper discusses the development of a model contract to make self-liquidating, quasi-equity investments in microenterprises.
Individual-level opportunity recognition processes are vital to corporate entrepreneurship. However, little is known regarding how managerial communication impacts the effectiveness of idea suggestion systems in stimulating individuals' participation in intrapreneurial ideation. Integrating self-determination theory, creativity, and framing research, we theorize how different ways of inviting employees to submit proposals (opt-out/opt-in registration; provision of examples) affect the number and quality of submitted ideas.
This paper studies the impact of a financial education program for top managers of medium and large enterprises in Mozambique through a randomized controlled trial (RCT). We use survey data and financial reporting data to show consistent evidence that managers adjust some financial policies in response to the education program. The largest treatment effects are on short-term financial policies related to working capital, generating a positive impact on cash flows due to reductions in account receivables and inventories.
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.