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.
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.
Measuring the returns of advertising opportunities continues to be a challenge for many businesses. We design and run a field experiment in collaboration with Yelp across 18,294 firms in the restaurant industry to understand which types of businesses gain more from digital advertising. We randomly assign 7,209 restaurants to freely receive Yelp’s standard ads package for three months. The scale of the experiment gives us a unique opportunity to assess the heterogeneity in advertising effectiveness across a variety of business attributes.
Whose problems do investors see as worth solving? I experimentally study how investors evaluate a startup idea based on the socioeconomic background of the founder, the target customer, and the (in)congruence between the two. I am also interested in how the socioeconomic background of investors themselves affect these evaluations. I aim to contribute to the research on diversity and inequality in entrepreneurial funding in which socioeconomic backgrounds have been relatively understudied.
In an RCT with US small businesses, we document that a large share of firms are not well-informed about bankruptcy. Many assume that bankruptcy necessarily entails the death of a business and do not know about Chapter 11 bankruptcy, where debts are renegotiated so that the business can continue operating. Small businesses are also unaware of a recent major reform that lowered the costs of bankruptcy procedures to enhance their protection.
We examine the productivity effects of a generative artificial intelligence technology—the assistive chatbot ChatGPT—in the context of mid-level professional writing tasks. In a preregistered online experiment, we assign occupation-specific, incentivized writing tasks to 444 college-educated professionals, and randomly expose half of them to ChatGPT. Our results show that ChatGPT substantially raises average productivity: time taken decreases by 0.8 SDs and output quality rises by 0.4 SDs.
As more and more activities in the economy become digitized, analytics and data-driven decision-making (DDD) are becoming increasingly important. The adoption of analytics and DDD has been slower in small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) compared to large firms, and reliable causal estimates of the impacts of analytics tools for small businesses have been lacking. We derive experiment-based estimates of the effect of an analytics tool on SME outcomes, analyzing the randomized introduction of eBay’s Seller Hub (SH), a data-rich seller dashboard.
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.
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.
We seek to understand what is limiting women's access to finance, in particular for highly skilled start-up entrepreneurs. To investigate supply side constraints, we run a lab-in-the-field experiment in which loan officers in Uganda evaluate several business ideas based on real pitch decks from start-ups. We separate biases in idea evaluation from other constraints (such as gender specific differences in the ability to implement a project, or in external constraints that start-up entrepreneurs are facing).
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.
This impact evaluation aims to measure the effect of a program that combines business training, mentoring, and a large cash transfer on high-potential small and medium businesses in Chile. 250 out of the top 500 firms participating in a business plan competition will be randomly selected to receive all three components of the program, while the remaining firms will receive none of them.
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.
We study the demand for government participation in China’s venture capital and private equity market. We conduct a large-scale, non-deceptive field experiment in collaboration with the leading industry service provider, through which we survey both sides of the market: the capital investors and the private firms managing the invested capital by deploying it to high-growth entrepreneurs. Our respondents together account for nearly $1 trillion in assets under management.
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.
The limited market size of many small emerging economies is a key constraint to the growth of innovative small and medium enterprises. Exporting offers a potential solution, but firms may struggle to locate and appeal to foreign buyers. A six-country randomized experiment was conducted with 225 firms in the Western Balkans to test the effectiveness of 30 hours of live group-based training and 5 hours of one-on-one remote consulting in overcoming these constraints.
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.
Resource allocation decisions play a dominant role in shaping a firm’s technological trajectory and competitive advantage. Recent work indicates that innovative firms and scientific institutions tend to exhibit an anti-novelty bias when evaluating new projects and ideas. In this paper, we focus on shedding light into this observed pattern by examining how evaluator expertise in the problem’s focal domain shapes the relationship between novelty and feasibility in evaluations of quality for technical solutions.
This lab-in-the-field experiment will measure the gender bias in entrepreneurship and investment among youth and credit officers in Ethiopia. Chigign Tobiya “Ethiopia Emerges” is a television show in Ethiopia where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of business tycoons for a chance to get investment funding.
Women are underrepresented as inventors on U.S. patents (Toole et al. 2019, Toole et al. 2020). Although the gender gap is closing over time, it is not closing quickly. This suggests that there is a role for policy to help reduce invention and commercialization barriers for women. However, the potential effectiveness of policies to address this issue are unclear, primarily because the underlying causes of the gender gap are complex and not well understood. Recent research has begun to cast light on this issue (Whittington 2005; Ding et al. 2006; Murray and Graham 2007; Colyvas et al.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
. A randomized experiment is conducted a in Nigeria to test the relative effectiveness of these different approaches in improving business practices.
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.
We study the allocation and productivity consequences of managerial training via a randomized controlled trial among supervisors in a large ready-made garment firm. We designed a program using practices identified as productive in Adhvaryu et al. (2022c), and asked factory and floor managers (FFMs) – who are directly above supervisors in the hierarchy – to recommend which of the supervisors they manage should be prioritized for training. We then randomized access to the program within these recommendation rankings.
Interference across competing firms in RCTs can be informative about market structure. An experiment that subsidizes a random subset of traders who buy cocoa from farmers in Sierra Leone illustrates this idea. Interpreting treatment-control differences in prices and quantities purchased from farmers through a model of Cournot competition reveals differentiation between traders is low. Combining this result with quasi-experimental variation in world prices shows that the number of traders competing is 50 percent higher than the number operating in a village.
This study analyses a field experiment conducted on AngelList Talent, a large online search platform for startup jobs.