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Experimental Practices in Economics: Performativity and the Creation of Phenomena

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  • Dorothea Kübler

Abstract

This contribution provides a brief overview and discussion of the role of experiments in economics. It is argued that economic experiments have convinced economists and the public of the existence of phenomena that have been outside the scope of economics. The success of these experiments is partly due to the performative nature of experiments. To develop this argument, examples of experiments are provided, and two different sets of criticisms of experiments are discussed. The paper concludes with a discussion of which questions economists should address and how experiments can be used to study policy-relevant questions. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG - (Experimentelle Praktiken in der Ökonomie: Performativität und die Erzeugung neuer Phänomene) Der Beitrag beschäftigt sich mit der Rolle von Experimenten in der Ökonomie. Es wird argumentiert, dass Experimente dazu in der Lage sind, sowohl Ökonomen als auch eine breitere Öffentlichkeit davon zu überzeugen, dass bestimmte Phänomene existieren, die vorher nicht als relevant für die Ökonomie angesehen oder gar nicht wahrgenommen wurden. Diese Wirkung von Experimenten beruht zu einem wichtigen Teil auf ihrer Performativität. Um dieses Argument zu entwickeln, werden Beispiele für Experimente gegeben, verschiedene Kritikpunkte an Experimenten diskutiert sowie die Frage aufgeworfen, was die Grenzen der Ökonomie sind und wie Experimente zur Beantwortung wirtschaftspolitischer Fragen eingesetzt werden können.

Suggested Citation

  • Dorothea Kübler, 2010. "Experimental Practices in Economics: Performativity and the Creation of Phenomena," CIG Working Papers SP II 2010-01, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG).
  • Handle: RePEc:wzb:wzebiv:spii2010_01
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2005. "The Case for Mindless Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 784828000000000581, David K. Levine.
    2. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
    3. David Danz & Dietmar Fehr & Dorothea Kübler, 2012. "Information and beliefs in a repeated normal-form game," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(4), pages 622-640, December.
    4. Klaus M. Schmidt, 2009. "The Role of Experiments for the Development of Economic Theories," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 10(s1), pages 14-30, May.
    5. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 991-1013, September.
    6. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
    7. T. Randolph Beard & Richard O. Beil, 1994. "Do People Rely on the Self-Interested Maximization of Others? An Experimental Test," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(2), pages 252-262, February.
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