Encouraging firms to adopt beneficial new behaviors: Lessons from a large-scale cluster-randomized field experiment

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Robert Tilleard
Georgina Bremner
Thomas Middleton
Esme Turner
David Holdsworth

Keywords

Firms, Behavioral economics, Social norm, Randomized controlled trial

Abstract

Policymakers are interested in how to encourage firms to adopt beneficial new behaviors. In this study, we report on the results of an experiment to encourage firms to file their annual accounts electronically and on time. Our intervention involved UK firms filing their annual company accounts to an official registrar of companies. In a cluster-randomized controlled trial, we found behaviorally informed letters had no detectable effect on encouraging firms to file electronically. A letter using a social norm had a small (2.4%, p=0.053) effect on encouraging firms to file on time. The trial indicates behavioral science in this context has limited use in influencing firms to adopt new behaviors. We conclude more evidence is required to understand which behavioral interventions will have the most impact on influencing firm behavior in different contexts.