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.

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.

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.

Adem, A., Kneller, R., Li, C.

This study examines the influence of information constraints on firms’ efficiency in using digital technologies, focusing on business websites. Through two natural field experiments in the UK, we provide firms with benchmarked performance information on their websites. The experimental designs enable us to assess the salience of the information provided and heterogeneity linked to prior experience and catch-up potential.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Breda, T., Grenet, J., Monnet, M., Van Effenterre, C.

We show in a large-scale field experiment that a brief exposure to female role models working in scientific fields affects high school students’ perceptions and choices of undergraduate major. The classroom interventions reduced the prevalence of stereotypical views on jobs in science and gender differences in abilities. They also made high-achieving girls in grade 12 more likely to enrol in selective and male-dominated science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs in college.

Bruhn, M., Piza, C.

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.

De Oliveira, P.

The study investigates the role of information constraints and behavioral biases in the under-adoption of key business practices by micro-enterprises in Brazil. We combine a randomized control trial with online surveys to study these questions.

Carson, R., Graff Zivin, J.S., Louviere, J., Sadoff, S., Shrader Jr, J.G.

This experiment tries to understand how managers respond to uncertainty when making research and development decisions. Three experiments were conducted with master’s degree students in a program focused on the intersection of business and technology.

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.

Catalini, C., Oettl, A., Roche, M.P.

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.

Yokoo, H.-F., Kubo, T., Sasaki H.

Climate change poses an urgent and existential threat to the wine sector. However, it is not easy for wineries and farmers to take action to reduce carbon emission comparing to adaptation. How can we encourage these actions? Farmers often seek information before take action, which influences their current risk perceptions of extreme weather condition or moral norms. Regarding the information, a positive approach focusing on empowering farmers to take action to address climate change is generally more successful at engaging people and minimizing defensive reactions.

Anderson S., Mckenzie D.

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.

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

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

Kim, H., Spina, C.

In this study, we empirically examine the effect of sharing information with close or distant competitors as part of an incubation program. There is recent evidence of substantial heterogeneity in acceleration programs, with qualitative research highlighting that the main benefit for participants to these programs is the increased exposure to information and the feedback they obtain. Such exposure helps balance the bounded rationality of founders.

Van den Berg, G.J., Dauth, C., Homrighausen, P., Stephan, G.

Using survey and register data, this experiment estimates the effects of the information treatment brochure on awareness of WeGebAU, on take-up of WeGebAU and other training, and on subsequent employment.

Gallus, J., Jung, O.S., Lakhani, K.

This paper explores what might motivate employees to participate in internal crowdsourcing, a peer-based approach to innovation.

Graff Zivin, J., Lyons, E.

This paper compares how two common incentive schemes affect innovative performance in a field experiment run in partnership with a large life sciences company.

Ganguli, I., Gaule, P., Vuletić Čugalj, D.

This trial investigates whether excessively optimistic beliefs may play a role in the persistent demand for doctoral and post-doctoral training in science.

Ganguli, I., Gaule, P., Guinan, E., Lakhani, K., Lane, J.

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.

Muehlfeld, K., Rigtering, C., Weitzel, U.

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.

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.

Kim, H.

This project aims to understand how increased access to competitor information enabled by digitization affects the strategic decisions and performance of firms.

McKenzie, D., Pouliquen, V., Benhassine, N., Santini, M.

Examines a program in Benin that drastically reduces costs to formalize a business, while also offering tax mediation and training. Results forthcoming.

Gallus, J.

This natural field experiment tests the effects of purely symbolic awards on volunteer retention in a public goods context. The experiment is conducted at Wikipedia, which faces declining editor retention rates, particularly among newcomers. Randomization assures that award receipt is orthogonal to previous performance. The analysis reveals that awards have a sizeable effect on newcomer retention, which persists over the four quarters following the initial intervention.

Ganguli, I., Huysentruyt, M., Le Coq, C.

We conducted a field experiment to identify the causal effects of extrinsic incentive cues on the sorting and performance of nascent social entrepreneurs. The experiment, carried out with one of the United Kingdom’s largest support agencies for social entrepreneurs, encouraged 431 nascent social entrepreneurs to submit a full application for a grant competition that provides cash and in-kind mentorship support through a onetime mailing sent by the agency.