Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Experimental Economics: A Revolution in Understanding Behaviour

Contents:

Author Info

  • Jim Engle-Warnick

    ()

  • Sonia Laszlo

    ()

Abstract

What is the best compensation package to offer employees? How should choice among investments in pension plans be structured? Should a government use auctions to sell natural resources? Is it possible to design a market to reduce non-point source pollution in Quebec’s watersheds? What holds people back from trying technologies that are completely new to them? Over the last two decades a revolution has occurred in the advancement of our ability to answer questions such as these. This revolution is called experimental economics. Experimental economics is the use of a controlled laboratory environment to understand decisions people make. In an economics experiment, people make decisions in a laboratory. They are paid according to the outcome of their decisions, and their decisions are analyzed to determine the effect of an institutional or environmental change that is being tested. Through the analysis of behaviour in controlled economics experiments, much has been learned about behaviour when outcomes are uncertain: for example, new notions about preferences toward risk and consumption over time have been developed. Much has also been learned about how people behave in strategic environments: for example, bidding behaviour in auctions is better understood, and the strategies people use as they learn how to trust each other have been observed. The purpose of this report is to describe the methodology of experimental economics and to detail its major uses. We will focus on the ability to measure behaviours in a wide variety of situations important to organizations. We will show, with examples from our own work, how feedback between the laboratory and the field can result in new understanding of decisions in an effort to affect the cycle of poverty in a developing country in fundamentally new ways. What is the best compensation package to offer employees? How should choice among investments in pension plans be structured? Should a government use auctions to sell natural resources? Is it possible to design a market to reduce non-point source pollution in Quebec’s watersheds? What holds people back from trying technologies that are completely new to them? Over the last two decades a revolution has occurred in the advancement of our ability to answer questions such as these. This revolution is called experimental economics. Experimental economics is the use of a controlled laboratory environment to understand decisions people make. In an economics experiment, people make decisions in a laboratory. They are paid according to the outcome of their decisions, and their decisions are analyzed to determine the effect of an institutional or environmental change that is being tested. Through the analysis of behaviour in controlled economics experiments, much has been learned about behaviour when outcomes are uncertain: for example, new notions about preferences toward risk and consumption over time have been developed. Much has also been learned about how people behave in strategic environments: for example, bidding behaviour in auctions is better understood, and the strategies people use as they learn how to trust each other have been observed. The purpose of this report is to describe the methodology of experimental economics and to detail its major uses. We will focus on the ability to measure behaviours in a wide variety of situations important to organizations. We will show, with examples from our own work, how feedback between the laboratory and the field can result in new understanding of decisions in an effort to affect the cycle of poverty in a developing country in fundamentally new ways.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.cirano.qc.ca/pdf/publication/2008RB-01.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Burgundy Reports with number 2008rb-01.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: 01 Apr 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cir:cirbur:2008rb-01

Contact details of provider:
Postal: 2020 rue University, 25e étage, Montréal, Quéc, H3A 2A5
Phone: (514) 985-4000
Fax: (514) 985-4039
Email:
Web page: http://www.cirano.qc.ca/
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

Citations

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cir:cirbur:2008rb-01. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Webmaster).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.