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Conducting field experiments using eLancing's natural environment


  • Aguinis, Herman
  • Lawal, Sola O.


We propose the use of eLancing as a natural environment to conduct field experiments in entrepreneurship research. eLancing, or Internet freelancing, involves millions of people around the world and consists of websites that link individuals and organizations interested in purchasing services or commissioning people to complete some type of work with individuals and organizations interested in providing such services or performing such work. We provide a description of how to conduct practically feasible field experiments using eLancing's natural environment to investigate important substantive areas such as entrepreneurial team efficacy and how execution differs from opportunity recognition, among other areas. Using eLancing to conduct field experiments allows researchers to overcome pervasive methodological challenges as revealed by a content analysis of the 175 empirical articles published in the Journal of Business Venturing from January 2005 to November 2010. Specifically, eLancing allows researchers to improve generalizability, address the omitted variables problem, improve the operationalization of constructs, improve confidence regarding the nature of causal relationships, and address other challenges such as participant bias and selective survival. Thus, using eLancing as a methodological tool has the potential to lead to important theoretical advancements and subsequent practical applications.

Suggested Citation

  • Aguinis, Herman & Lawal, Sola O., 2012. "Conducting field experiments using eLancing's natural environment," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 493-505.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbvent:v:27:y:2012:i:4:p:493-505
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusvent.2012.01.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John Horton & David Rand & Richard Zeckhauser, 2011. "The online laboratory: conducting experiments in a real labor market," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(3), pages 399-425, September.
    2. Gabriele Paolacci & Jesse Chandler & Panagiotis G. Ipeirotis, 2010. "Running experiments on Amazon Mechanical Turk," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 5(5), pages 411-419, August.
    3. Grandi, Alessandro & Grimaldi, Rosa, 2005. "Academics' organizational characteristics and the generation of successful business ideas," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 821-845, November.
    4. Mitchell, J. Robert & Shepherd, Dean A., 2010. "To thine own self be true: Images of self, images of opportunity, and entrepreneurial action," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 138-154, January.
    5. Hmieleski, Keith M. & Corbett, Andrew C., 2008. "The contrasting interaction effects of improvisational behavior with entrepreneurial self-efficacy on new venture performance and entrepreneur work satisfaction," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 482-496, July.
    6. McVea, John F., 2009. "A field study of entrepreneurial decision-making and moral imagination," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 491-504, September.
    7. Markman, Gideon D. & Phan, Phillip H. & Balkin, David B. & Gianiodis, Peter T., 2005. "Entrepreneurship and university-based technology transfer," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 241-263, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jbvent:v:34:y:2019:i:2:p:242-260 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:eee:jbvent:v:34:y:2019:i:2:p:327-347 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:jbvent:v:34:y:2019:i:2:p:348-367 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Benson, David F. & Brau, James C. & Cicon, James & Ferris, Stephen P., 2015. "Strategically camouflaged corporate governance in IPOs: Entrepreneurial masking and impression management," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 839-864.
    5. Herman Aguinis & Jeffrey R. Edwards, 2014. "Methodological Wishes for the Next Decade and How to Make Wishes Come True," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 143-174, January.
    6. repec:eee:jbvent:v:34:y:2019:i:2:p:215-223 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Vanessa C. Burbano, 2016. "Social Responsibility Messages and Worker Wage Requirements: Field Experimental Evidence from Online Labor Marketplaces," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(4), pages 1010-1028, August.
    8. repec:eee:jbvent:v:33:y:2018:i:6:p:762-779 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:eee:jbvent:v:34:y:2019:i:2:p:311-326 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Crawford, G. Christopher & Aguinis, Herman & Lichtenstein, Benyamin & Davidsson, Per & McKelvey, Bill, 2015. "Power law distributions in entrepreneurship: Implications for theory and research," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 696-713.
    11. repec:eee:jbrese:v:89:y:2018:i:c:p:77-86 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. repec:eee:jbvent:v:34:y:2019:i:2:p:224-241 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:eee:jbvent:v:34:y:2019:i:2:p:284-310 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:eee:jbvent:v:32:y:2017:i:6:p:707-725 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. repec:kap:jbuset:v:149:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s10551-016-3079-9 is not listed on IDEAS


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