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.

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.

2022
deGrazia, C., Pairolero, N., Pappas, P.-A., Teodorescu, M., Toole, A.

Women are underrepresented in patenting and the gap is not closing quickly. One major roadblock to progress is a dearth of causal evidence on the potential effectiveness of policies to reduce the gender gap in patenting. Analyzing a randomized control trial at the United States Patent and Trademark Office that was designed to provide additional help to applicants who do not have legal representation, we find heterogeneous causal impacts across gender and technologies on the probability of obtaining patent rights.

2022
Cohodes, S., Ho, H., Robles, S.C.

The federal government and many individual organizations have invested in programs to support diversity in the STEM pipeline, including STEM summer programs for high school students, but there is little rigorous evidence of their efficacy. We fielded a randomized controlled trial to study a suite of such programs targeted to underrepresented high school students at an elite, technical institution. The STEM summer programs differ in their length (one week, six weeks, or six months) and modality (on-site or online).

2022
Ubfal, D., Arraiz, I., Beuermann, D., Frese, M., Maffioli, A., Verch, D.

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.

2022
Howell, S., Kuchler, T., Snitkof, D., Stroebel, J., Wong, J.

By enabling smaller loans, broader geographic reach, and less human bias in decision-making, process automation may reduce racial disparities in access to financial services. We find evidence for all three channels in a setting where private lenders faced no credit risk but decided who to serve: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provided loans to small businesses during COVID-19. Black-owned firms disproportionately obtained their PPP loans from fintech lenders, especially in areas with high racial animus.

2022
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.

2022
Custodio, C., Hansman, C., Mendes, D.

This paper studies whether informational frictions prevent firms from accessing government support using a randomised controlled trial. We focus on two Portuguese COVID-19 relief programs, providing (i) wage support for workers who are kept on payroll and (ii) credit lines backed by government guarantees. We randomly assign firms to a treatment providing either simplified information about a program, or a combination information and step-by-step application support. We find a significant treatment effect on take up of the wage support program.

2022

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.

2022
Gorodnichenko, Y., Kumar, S., Coibion, O.

Using a new survey of firms in New Zealand, we document how exogenous variation in the macroeconomic uncertainty perceived by firms affects their economic decisions. We use randomized information treatments that provide different types of information about the first and/or second moments of future economic growth to generate exogenous changes in the perceived macroeconomic uncertainty of some firms. The effects on their decisions relative to their initial plans as well as relative to an untreated control group are measured in a follow-up survey six months later.

2022
Fairlie, R., Turner, P.

This project is a collaboration with Corner to Corner to study the impact of their entrepreneurship training course on financial stability. Corner to Corner, a Nashville-based nonprofit, is focused on their mission of helping their neighbors to flourish and addressing the racial wealth gap. One of their primary programs is The Academy, a 10-week entrepreneurship training course that teaches students the fundamentals of starting and operating their own business.

2022
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.

2022
Brune, L., Giné, X., Karlan, D.

Microcredit promised business growth for small firms lacking access to banking loans. Although microcredit has reached millions, recent randomized evaluations find limited average business impacts. Critics often blame contract rigidity, specifically the fixed and frequent installments, for the lack of productive risk-taking. But such rigidity may instill borrower discipline. This study partnered with a Colombian lender that offered first-time borrowers a flexible loan that permitted delaying up to three monthly repayments.

2022
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.

2022
Jibril, H., Mensmann, M., Roper, S., Scott, D.

The ‘Evolve Digital’ trial was developed with the objective of boosting digital adoption in small family firms through identifying a cost-effective, yet productivity-enhancing programme of peer group learning for small family businesses, which can be replicated throughout the country.

2022
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.

2022
Anderson, S., Kankanhalli, S., Iacovone, L., Narayanan, S.

Across developing economies, cash is the conduit for retail transactions. Policymakers, multinational product manufacturers and marketers of electronic payment systems are interested in understanding how to stimulate the growth of electronic payments in emerging markets. In this paper, we investigate what hinders the adoption of e-payment technology by traditional retailers, in particular, whether barriers to adoption are technological, informational or financial in nature.

2022
Anderson, S. J., McKenzie, D.

. A randomized experiment is conducted a in Nigeria to test the relative effectiveness of these different approaches in improving business practices.

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