In the Journals
| Peter Klein |
Three newly published papers of likely interest to O&Mers:
- Jeffrey L. Furman and Scott Stern, “Climbing atop the Shoulders of Giants: The Impact of Institutions on Cumulative Research,” American Economic Review 101, no. 5 (August 2011).
While cumulative knowledge production is central to growth, little empirical research investigates how institutions shape whether existing knowledge can be exploited to create new knowledge. This paper assesses the impact of a specific institution, a biological resource center, whose objective is to certify and disseminate knowledge. We disentangle the marginal impact of this institution on cumulative research from the impact of selection, in which the most important discoveries are endogenously linked to research-enhancing institutions. Exploiting exogenous shifts of biomaterials across institutional settings and employing a difference-in-differences approach, we find that effective institutions amplify the cumulative impact of individual scientific discoveries.
- Antti Kauhanen, “The Perils of Altering Incentive Plans: A Case Study,” Managerial and Decision Economics 32, no. 6 (September 2011).
This paper studies a retail chain that introduced a sales incentive plan that rewarded for exceeding a sales target and subsequently cut the incentive intensity in addition to increasing the target. Utilizing monthly panel data for 54 months for all 53 units of the chain the paper shows that the introduction of the sales incentive plan increased sales and profitability, whereas the changes in the plan lead to a marked drop in sales and profitability. Thus, modifying the incentive plan proved costly for the firm. The results are consistent with the gift-exchange model of labor contracts.
- Oriana Bandiera, Iwan Barankay, and Imran Rasul, “Field Experiments with Firms,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 25, no. 3 (Summer 2011).
We discuss how the use of field experiments sheds light on long-standing research questions relating to firm behavior. We present insights from two classes of experiments—within and across firms—and draw common lessons from both sets. Field experiments within firms generally aim to shed light on the nature of agency problems. Along these lines, we discuss how field experiments have provided new insights on shirking behavior and the provision of monetary and nonmonetary incentives. Field experiments across firms generally aim to uncover firms’ binding constraints by exogenously varying the availability of key inputs such as labor, physical capital, and managerial capital. We conclude by discussing some of the practical issues researchers face when designing experiments and by highlighting areas for further research.