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SSRC Virtual Lecture: Bottlenecks for Evidence Adoption (Feb 29)

Stefano DellaVigna will talk about his research looking at why cities with a national nudge unit did or didn’t adopt interventions after running RCTs. He will also discuss to address bottlenecks to evidence adoption […]

Bottlenecks for Evidence Adoption” featuring Stefano DellaVigna (University of California, Berkeley)

Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) have become an increasingly used tool for governments to evaluate whether a particular program or improvement to a program could work. But once a government has that evidence, what determines if they will use it? For my paper on Bottlenecks for Evidence Adoption (with Woojin Kim and Elizabeth Linos), we identified 30 cities that had collectively run 73 RCTs with a national nudge unit, all testing communications interventions to improve specific programs (such as timely bill payment or recruiting a diverse police force). We went back to these cities to find out how many of the results had been adopted and why or why not. We also surveyed experts ahead of time for their predictions and compared thhem to our findings.

Overwhelmingly, we found the biggest barriers to adoption were not related to cost or the strength of evidence, but simply whether the city would have to create a new communication or change an existing one—in other words, organizational inertia. We also found that experts were overly optimistic about the role of evidence, and that prioritization by city leadership after the RCT plays an important role.

In this talk, I’ll cover these results, challenges to pursuing this kind of research, and talk about how researchers can potentially address bottlenecks to evidence adoption in their research design.

Host: The Social Science Research Council
When: Thursday, Feb. 29, at 12pm Pacific
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