Selective Trials: A Principal-Agent Approach to Randomized Controlled Experiments

51 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2010

See all articles by Sylvain Chassang

Sylvain Chassang

New York University (NYU) - Department of Economics

Gerard Padró i Miquel

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Erik Snowberg

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 21, 2010

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Randomized Controlled Trials, Selective Trials, Blind Trials, Incentivized Trials, Marginal Treatment Effects, Mechanism Design, Selection, Heterogeneous Beliefs, Compliance

JEL Classification: C81, C93, D82, O12

Suggested Citation

Chassang, Sylvain and Padro i Miquel, Gerard and Snowberg, Erik, Selective Trials: A Principal-Agent Approach to Randomized Controlled Experiments (December 21, 2010). Economic Theory Center Working Paper No. 003-2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1729274 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1729274

Sylvain Chassang (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Department of Economics ( email )

19 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

Gerard Padro i Miquel

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Erik Snowberg

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences ( email )

1200 East California Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91125
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
56
rank
318,824
Abstract Views
727
PlumX Metrics
!

Under construction: SSRN citations will be offline until July when we will launch a brand new and improved citations service, check here for more details.

For more information