Michael Luca and Max H. Bazerman: The Power of Experiments: Decision-Making in a Data-Driven World
The MIT Press, 2020
Co-authors Michael Luca and Max H. Bazerman provide a brief, yet in-depth, examination of how economists are increasingly using data-driven experiments in public and private sector work in their new book. Michael Luca is Lee J. Styslinger III Associate Professor of Business Administration, and Max H. Bazerman is Jesse Isidor Straus Professor of Business Administration, both at Harvard Business School.
The authors have considerable expertise in the subject matter, including their affiliations with Harvard's Behavioral Insights Group and Behavior Change for Good (BCFG). Portions of the book have been adapted from articles coauthored by Michael Luca in the Harvard Business Review. Material incorporated into the book includes content from the following articles: "Were OkCupid's and Facebook's Experiments Unethical?" from July 19, 2014; "Your Company is Full of Good Experiments (You Just Have to Recognize Them)" from November 23, 2015; "Good Communication Requires Experimenting with Your Language" from February 4, 2016; and "Using Experiments to Launch New Products" from November 5, 2018.
The goal of the book is to provide more transparency into why and how experimentation is conducted and when and where experiments are most useful for decision making. On this aim, the book is successful. There is much to discover about modern experimentation due to the immense amount of data available to tech sector firms. Individuals may not even be aware of their involvement. As noted in the Preface (page ix), "Experiments can feel complex, invasive, and Big Brotherish, especially when we realize we've been totally oblivious to our regular participation in them." The narrative is accessible to those unfamiliar with experiments and provides background on the topic that is still engaging to those that are familiar. Some attempts at levity struck this reviewer as irreverent and distracting, yet the book is a worthwhile exploration of its topic.
The book is organized into three parts: Breaking...