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Field Experiments and BI – Part I

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Much as I love the behavioral economics gospel espoused in Dan Ariely's delightful book, Predictably Irrational, I'm less than comfortable with the driving methodology of controlled classroom or laboratory experiments that use MIT business graduate students as subjects. I understand why Ariely uses lab experiments; in his own words: “They help us slow human behavior to a frame-by-frame narration of events, isolate individual forces, and examine those forces carefully and in more detail. They let us test directly and unambiguously what makes us tick.” I'm on board with the experiment part; it's the lab that causes me heartburn.

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Comments (1)
There is no doubt that field experiments have an advantage over lab experiments when it comes to generalizing results to the real world. There is also no doubt that this technique is underused in the business world. The difficulty is in identifying situations where field experiments make sense, or are even feasible. You have rightly identified some of the variables involved but this topic in and of itself requires further expansion.
Posted by Will T | Tuesday, August 04 2009 at 2:06PM ET
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