Experimentation, Learning, and Performance: Evidence from a RCT

Andrea Contigiani, Fisher College of Business

Abstract: Experimentation is the center of a fascinating debate among entrepreneurship practitioners. Inspired by the lean startup, much current practice advocates the intense use of experimentation. Conversely, a large entrepreneurship tradition emphasizes the importance of design and planning. Despite the relevance of this debate, we have no logically rigorous and empirically supported theory of experimentation. To fill this gap, I investigate the impact of experimentation on performance in entrepreneurial ventures, seeking to identify venture- and market-level conditions under which experimentation is most valuable. I build a novel theoretical framework and test its implications in an original dataset of US-based software ventures.

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