The Research Exchange
Opportunities to work with HBS faculty on experimental field studies
The Research Exchange is a new way for faculty to find corporate participants who may wish to collaborate on a variety of field studies. The ultimate goal: to solve various dilemmas facing companies all over the world. By forming a collaborative partnership with an HBS faculty member, your firm could gain the competitive advantage of finding answers first—and, ultimately, make a difference for the world of business. More details about field research.
The Internet and Employee Productivity
Doctoral Student Andrew Brodsky is studying how Internet access at work affects employee productivity. Does the ability to engage in leisure activities during work downtime improve productivity, or does it act as a distraction? Do managers and employees make accurate assumptions about and estimates of employees' productivity? As part of this study, employees will be given tools to better track their own productivity. The goals of this study are to understand how Internet access in the workplace relates to employee productivity and job satisfaction.
If you think your company may be interested in pursuing a field study on the Internet and employee productivity, please write to Andrew Brodsky at email@example.com.
Honey vs. Money
Assistant Professor Ian Larkin is studying the value of non-monetary awards and recognition, in terms of both employee satisfaction and company productivity. "Awards and recognition is another form of extrinsic motivation—an external motivator, like money, that many employees value," he explains. "We know awards motivate many employees, but we—both academics and businesspeople—really know very about the cost and benefit of awards vs. more typical extrinsic motivators, such as monetary compensation." Larkin is pursuing a field study that will compare the level of employee effort motivated by money vs. the effort motivated by rewards. This study will involve an experiment in which some employees are motivated by a monetary award, while others are motivated by a non-monetary award (such as public recognition or a prize). The goal: to determine whether companies will garner more effort from a "free" award than from a monetary bonus.
If you think your company may be interested in this field study, please write to Ian Larkin at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Note that Larkin is seeking companies with at least 500 employees.)
Choosing While Waiting
Assistant Professor Ryan Buell is studying a new way of managing customers while they are on hold: giving them activities while they wait. For example, they can choose the music they listen to (press "1" for jazz, "2" for rock), they can choose to play different trivia games (press "1" if you think the capital of Arkansas is Carson City"), they can even gamble on their place in the queue (press "1" to take a 10% chance to go next, but a 90% chance to drop two slots in the queue). The outcome measures would be both customer satisfaction but also call center employees' job satisfaction—giving customers choice hopefully reduces their frustration with waiting, which in turn makes employees' jobs more pleasant.
If you think your company may be interested in pursuing a field study involving alternatives to MuzakŪ, please write to Ryan Buell at email@example.com.
Social Adoption Incentives
Associate Professor Michael Norton is pursuing field studies in which employees are incentivized to hit some target—such as uptake (e.g., "completing HR survey, getting a flu shot"), physical activity (e.g., "10,000 steps per day"), or weight control (e.g., "losing or maintaining weight"). The higher the number of employees who meet the goal is, the higher the payoffs for all employees. Incentives will be based on group performance—and incentives will rise as more people hit the target. (The first 10% of employees who reach the target get $1, but when 20% hit the target, everyone gets $2, and so on). The idea is that early adopters are motivated to encourage later people to hit the target (because their payment goes up), and late adopters are motivated because the payoffs keep getting larger.
If you think your company may be interested in pursuing a field study about social adoption incentives, please write to Michael Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Restarts" and Productivity
Associate Professor Francesca Gino is studying how "restart effects" boost productivity during the workday. In contrast to more traditional breaks (for lunch or coffee), restarts are somewhat random changes in the environment that are not directly related to work. For example, the simple acts of rearranging office furniture or changing a screensaver have the potential to make employees more focused and increase their performance. The outcome measures in this study will be employees' productivity, creativity, performance and energy levels during the workday. More broadly, understanding the benefits of "restarts" can be helpful in designing work that increases organizational creativity and productivity.
If you think your company may be interested in pursuing a field study on this topic, please contact Francesca Gino at email@example.com.
The Hidden Costs of Luxury Pricing
Assistant Professor Ryan Buell is studying the extent to which the price you charge for service affects how much it costs you to provide that service. For example, a traveler charged a high price for a hotel room might use more towels and make a bigger mess than a similar traveler charged a low price for the same room. Understanding this dynamic should lead to better pricing decisions and improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.
If you think your company may be interested in pursuing a field study investigating whether price drives cost-to-serve among your customers, please write to Ryan Buell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Companies hosting and participating in a field study must understand that they are agreeing to be part of a scientific experiment in which the researcher directs the process. Compared with a simple trial, an experiment provides a more accurate assessment of policy or procedural changes by including a "treatment" group of employees (who are testing out a new idea) and a "control" group of employees (who are conducting business as usual). The process enables conclusions to be drawn about whether any subsequent outcome differences result from the change itself or from other external factors. Results are owned by the researcher and intended for publication; participating firms can choose whether to be identified or remain unnamed in the published research. There is no charge for participating, and aggregated results will be provided for the participating company. While not always conclusive, studies are always educational and often fun. Company authorization is required for participation.
HBS researchers interested in listing a field study through The Research Exchange should send a note to Sean Silverthorne at email@example.com.