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
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.

2022
Huneeus, F., Martínez Alvear, C., Woodruff, C.

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. In-person surveys with the entrepreneurs will be conducted before and 12 months after the program.

2022
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.

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
Casaburi, L., Reed, T.

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.

2021
McKenzie, D., Mohpal, A., Yang D.

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

2021
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.

2019
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.

2019
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.

2019
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? 

2019
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.

2019
Balabay, O., Geijtenbeek, L., Jansen, J., Lemmers, O., Seip, M.

In 2004 and 2005, the then Ministry of Economic Affairs issued innovation vouchers to SMEs to promote cooperation and knowledge exchange between companies and knowledge institutes in the field of innovation. The underlying idea was that more new products, services and/or processes can be developed with more knowledge exchange. This innovation can in turn lead to an increase in turnover and productivity, which ultimately leads to more prosperity.

2018
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.

2018
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.

2018
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.

2018
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.

2017
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.

2017
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.

2017
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.

2016
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.

2015
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:

2015
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.

2015
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.

2015
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.

2015
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.

2015
Assaf, N., Cusolito, A.P., McKenzie, D.

Matching grants are one of the most common types of private sector development programs used in developing countries. But government subsidies to private firms can be controversial. A key question is that of additionality: do these programs get firms to undertake innovative activities that they would not otherwise do, or merely subsidize activities that would take place anyway? Randomized controlled trials can provide the counterfactual needed to answer this question, but efforts to experiment with matching grant programs have often failed.

2015
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.

2014
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.

2014
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.

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