John A. List, "The Voltage Effect: How to Make Good Ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale" (Currency, 2022)


Most economists would argue that policies and business strategies are most likely to succeed if they are evidence-based, with their efficacy demonstrated empirically by randomized controlled trials before they are implemented at scale. John List spearheaded the introduction of field experiments in economics, publishing a raft of influential studies with this approach, and using his research insights to help shape both government policy and business strategy. He has learned a thing or two along the way. In The Voltage Effect: How to Make Good Ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale (Currency, 2022), he draws upon his own experiences and his research to show all the ways in which an idea that “works” in a field experiment can fall flat when rolled out at a larger scale. This book provides tremendous insight into both the value of field experiments and the careful attention to detail needed to ensure that they teach us the right lessons.

John List is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago. He has also served as Chief Economist at tech economy pioneers Uber and Lyft, and recently agreed to take on the same role at an established linchpin of the middle-American retail, Walmart.

Host Peter Lorentzen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of San Francisco, where he leads a new Master's program in Applied Economics focused on the digital economy.

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Peter Lorentzen

Peter Lorentzen is economics professor at the University of San Francisco. He heads USF's Applied Economics Master's program, which focuses on the digital economy. His research is mainly on China's political economy.

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