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On the Generalizability of Experimental Results in Economics: With A Response To Camerer

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  • Omar Al-Ubaydli
  • John A. List

Abstract

Economists are increasingly turning to the experimental method as a means to estimate causal effects. By using randomization to identify key treatment effects, theories previously viewed as untestable are now scrutinized, efficacy of public policies are now more easily verified, and stakeholders can swiftly add empirical evidence to aid their decision-making. This study provides an overview of experimental methods in economics, with a special focus on developing an economic theory of generalizability. Given that field experiments are in their infancy, our secondary focus pertains to a discussion of the various parameters that they identify, and how they add to scientific knowledge. We conclude that until we conduct more field experiments that build a bridge between the lab and the naturally-occurring settings of interest we cannot begin to make strong conclusions empirically on the crucial question of generalizability from the lab to the field.

Suggested Citation

  • Omar Al-Ubaydli & John A. List, 2013. "On the Generalizability of Experimental Results in Economics: With A Response To Camerer," NBER Working Papers 19666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19666
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Potters, Jan & Stoop, Jan, 2016. "Do cheaters in the lab also cheat in the field?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 26-33.
    2. Christiane Bradler & Robert Dur & Susanne Neckermann & Arjan Non, 2016. "Employee Recognition and Performance: A Field Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(11), pages 3085-3099, November.
    3. Beck, Adrian & Kerschbamer, Rudolf & Qiu, Jianying & Sutter, Matthias, 2014. "Car mechanics in the lab––Investigating the behavior of real experts on experimental markets for credence goods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 166-173.
    4. John A. List & Robert Metcalfe, 2014. "Field experiments in the developed world: an introduction," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(4), pages 585-596.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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