Learning When to Quit: An Empirical Model of Experimentation

83 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2018

See all articles by Bernhard Ganglmair

Bernhard Ganglmair

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research - Junior Research Group Competition and Innovation; University of Mannheim - Department of Economics; Mannheim Centre for Competition and Innovation (MaCCI)

Timothy Simcoe

Boston University - Questrom School of Business; NBER

Emanuele Tarantino

University of Mannheim - Department of Economics; Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2018

Abstract

We study a dynamic model of the decision to continue or abandon a research project. Researchers improve their ideas over time and also learn whether those ideas will be adopted by the scientific community. Projects are abandoned as researchers grow more pessimistic about their chance of success. We estimate the structural parameters of this dynamic decision problem using a novel data set that contains information on both successful and abandoned projects submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), an organization that creates and maintains internet standards. Using the model and parameter estimates, we simulate two counterfactual policies: a cost-subsidy and a prize-based incentive scheme. For a fixed budget, subsidies have a larger impact on research output, but prizes perform better when accounting for researchers' opportunity costs.

Keywords: dynamic discrete choice, Experimentation, learning, Standardization

JEL Classification: D83, O31, O32

Suggested Citation

Ganglmair, Bernhard and Simcoe, Timothy S. and Tarantino, Emanuele, Learning When to Quit: An Empirical Model of Experimentation (February 2018). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP12733, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3130171

Bernhard Ganglmair (Contact Author)

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research - Junior Research Group Competition and Innovation ( email )

L7,1
Mannheim, 68161
Germany

University of Mannheim - Department of Economics ( email )

D-68131 Mannheim
Germany

Mannheim Centre for Competition and Innovation (MaCCI) ( email )

L 7, 1
Mannheim, 68131
Germany

Timothy S. Simcoe

Boston University - Questrom School of Business ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02215
United States

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Emanuele Tarantino

University of Mannheim - Department of Economics ( email )

D-68131 Mannheim
Germany

Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC) ( email )

Warandelaan 2
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

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