Habit Formation in Organizations

Last registered on June 22, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Habit Formation in Organizations
Initial registration date
February 22, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
February 27, 2023, 9:35 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
June 22, 2023, 3:43 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

University of Cologne

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Cologne
PI Affiliation
University of Cologne

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Using a sample of employees from several medium-sized companies, we investigate whether incentivizing employees to repeat a behavior several times over a certain period of time can lead to habit formation. We implement a monetary incentive for service employees who report a sales opportunity at least once a week over a period of four weeks. The incentive is available for twelve weeks. First, we test whether employees report more sales opportunities during the period in which they can receive the incentive. Then we test whether they continue to report more sales opportunities after the end of the intervention period, suggesting habit formation.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Grabe, Leonhard , Saskia Opitz and Dirk Sliwka. 2023. "Habit Formation in Organizations." AEA RCT Registry. June 22. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.10915-1.1
Experimental Details


Employees in the treatment group receive a bonus if they report at least one sales opportunity per week for four weeks in a row.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The primary outcome variables are the number of reported sales opportunities and the regularity of reporting sales opportunities (as measured by number of bonuses they (would have) received). We investigate the effect on number of reported sales opportunities as well as regularity of reporting sales opportunities both during the intervention period and during the twelve weeks after the intervention period.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Conversion rate (How many sales opportunities reported per high potential client visit); Successful sales/Revenue based on reported sales opportunities; sales opportunity training participation
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Our sample consists of service employees from several medium-sized technical service companies, which are active for a large multinational company that distributes technical products and services (SELLER). We implement a bonus for randomly selected service employees. The main task of these employees is to provide technical services to end customers (i.e., solve technical issues with the services or products of SELLER). Service employees in the treatment group receive a monetary incentive for reporting at least one sales opportunity per week for four weeks in a row. As the intervention period is twelve weeks, employees can receive the bonus up to three times. The employees report the sales opportunities not to their employers but directly to the SELLER via a web app. They also have the possibility to sell certain products directly to the customer. These will also be counted as reported sales opportunities.
To support the service employees in identifying sales opportunities and approaching the customers, the SELLER offers special trainings (sales opportunity trainings). Participation in the training is voluntary. The SELLER offers the training to all service employees (control and treatment group).

We additionally survey 12 of the 15 companies after the incentive phase. These 12 companies comprised a total of around 82%, i.e. around 850 employees. The other three companies did not agree to carry out the survey.

The survey includes the automaticity subscale of the self-report habit index (Verplanken & Orbell, 2003) as well as questions regarding prioritizing of different activities at work, communication intensity on the part of the management on different topics, questions regarding intrinsic task motivation (Deci & Ryan, 2000) as well as managerial expectations regarding the task. We further include knowledge questions regarding the incentivized behavior (i.e. offering clients additional products/services).
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
We use stratified randomization based on the individual employee’s company and previously reported sales opportunities (dummy for whether they would have received at least one bonus in the last 12 full weeks before randomization and a dummy for whether or not they reported sales opportunities since October 2022). For randomization, we used the randtreat command in Stata.
Randomization Unit
Individual employee
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
The number of clusters is the same as the number of observations (please see below).
Sample size: planned number of observations
Around 920 individual employees (from a total of 15 companies). The sample size is influenced by short-term employee turnover.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
around 460 individual employees in control, around 460 individual employees in treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
German Association for Experimental Economic Research e.V. Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials