At this Original Thinking Lecture we will be joined by John List, Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago, who will be discussing his book ‘The Voltage Effect: How to Make Good Ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale’.
The Voltage Effect: How to Make Good Ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale
The premise behind the Voltage Effect is deceptively simple: No great idea is guaranteed to succeed. Be it a life-saving medical breakthrough, a new policy initiative, a cutting-edge innovation, or a bold plan for building a better world, translating an idea into widespread impact depends on one thing only: whether it can be replicated at scale.
Many college students will graduate into the world with a bold idea they hope to scale – whether by starting a company, through social advocacy or non-profit work, in the private sector, or elsewhere. The book draws on John’s years of behavioural science research, as well as examples from the realms of business, education, policymaking, and public health to present a data-driven approach to the science of scaling. In it he outlines the five hurdles that must be overcome for an idea to succeed at scale, as well as four research-based strategies to achieve maximum-impact scaling. Topics include:
Best experimental design practices to validate an idea (and reduce the risk of false positives)
Navigating the supply-side economics of scaling
Using marginal thinking to assess the viability of an enterprise at scale
Preventing the negative externalities that may emerge when an idea is implemented on a large scale
Using behavioral-economic incentives to spur widespread adoption of an idea or increase compliance with a policy or program
How we can apply the principles of scaling to drive change in our schools, communities, companies, and society at large
John A. List is the Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago.
His research focuses on combining field experiments with economic theory to deepen our understanding of the economic science. In the early 1990s, List pioneered field experiments as a methodology for testing behavioural theories and learning about behavioural principles that are shared across different domains. To obtain data for his field experiments, List has made use of several different markets, including charitable fundraising activities, the sports trading card industry, the ride-share industry, and the education sector, to highlight a few. This collective research has lead to collaborative work with several different schools and charities, as well as firms including: Lyft, Uber, United Airlines, Virgin Airlines, Humana, Sears, Kmart, Facebook, Google, General Motors, Tinder, Citadel, Walmart and several non-profits.
His research includes over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and several published textbooks. He co-authored the international best seller, The Why Axis, in 2013, before releasing The Voltage Effect in February 2022.
List was elected a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011, and a Fellow of the Econometric Society in 2015. List received the 2010 Kenneth Galbraith Award, the 2008 Arrow Prize for Senior Economists for his research in behavioural economics in the field, and was the 2012 Yrjo Jahnsson Lecture Prize recipient. He is a current Editor of the Journal of Political Economy
The event will be facilitated by Timothy Devinney, Professor and Chair of International Business at Alliance Manchester Business School.