Participant Agency in Field Experiments (PAFE) Workshop
October 3-5, 2019
School of Global and International Studies
Indiana University Bloomington
The Participant Agency in Field Experiments (PAFE) Workshop is the Tobias Center for Innovation in Development’s third annual workshop, to be held at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, October 3-5, 2019. Field experiments have become a widespread methodological approach for social scientists studying economic and social development-related outcomes because they can improve internal validity of research designs and help overcome causal identification challenges generated by selection effects that are endemic to research based on observational data. However, when academic teams design experiments primarily to isolate causal processes, they may miss opportunities to increase participant involvement in field experiments, especially in developing contexts. Engaging participants could yield important returns by matching interventions to local contexts, and by facilitating research programs that recognize and rely on local knowledge. Specifically, participants might play a role in experimental design or implementation, or, more broadly, experimental design might allow more choice on the part of participants.
The PAFE workshop will explore possible ways participant agency might be increased in field experiments. In recognition of the potential for tradeoffs between participant involvement and the academic standards for experimental design, this workshop will bring together academics from multiple disciplines and practitioners. The workshop’s goal is to begin a conversation about the ways in which field experiments can both generate knowledge for the academy and inform policy, while ensuring opportunities for participant agency.