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Selective trials: a principal-agent approach to randomized controlled trials

Chassang, Sylvain and Padró i Miquel, Gerard and Snowberg, Erik (2010) Selective trials: a principal-agent approach to randomized controlled trials. NBER working papers, 16343. NBER, Cambridge, USA.

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Identification Number: 16343


We study the design of randomized controlled experiments in environments where outcomes are significantly affected by unobserved effort decisions taken by the subjects(agents). While standard randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are internally consistent, the unobservability of effort provision compromises external validity. We approach trial design as a principal-agent problem and show that natural extensions of RCTs -which we call selective trials- can help improve the external validity of experiments. In particular, selective trials can disentangle the effects of treatment, effort, and the interaction of treatment and effort. Moreover, they can help experimenters identify when measured treatment effects are affected by erroneous beliefs and inappropriate effort provision.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2010 by Sylvain Chassang, Gerard Padro i Miquel, and Erik Snowberg
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Sets: Departments > Economics
Collections > Economists Online
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2011 09:54
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2011 09:54

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