Motivating firms to switch to online business surveys

Last registered on July 28, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Motivating firms to switch to online business surveys
Initial registration date
July 26, 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
July 28, 2023, 2:02 PM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

ifo Institute

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
The monthly ifo business surveys are among the most well-known [or important] business surveys in Germany. Recent evidence shows that 20% of all participating firms still use the paper version, which is environmentally and economically costlier than the online alternative. We conduct an RCT with N=1900 firms to investigate how firms can be nudged to switch from paper to the online survey. We test the effects of descriptive norms and pro-environmental appeals (each vs. a control condition).
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Demmelhuber, Katrin et al. 2023. "Motivating firms to switch to online business surveys." AEA RCT Registry. July 28.
Experimental Details


Firms get an invitation via standard paper mail to switch to online mode. These mailings contain different arguments for switching.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Share of firms that switched to the online survey mode within 4 weeks after send-out.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We send a letter to all firms that are still using the paper mode in the monthly ifo busi-ness survey. In the letter, we invite firms to switch to the online survey mode. We vary the arguments for switching in three groups:

1. Baseline: No additional arguments, firms are just invited to switch.
2. Environment: We add environmental arguments to the baseline
3. Norms: We add descriptive norm information (how many firms already take part online) to the baseline

We ask firms to share their reasons if they do not want to switch.

For exploratory purposes, we cross-randomize who signs the letter:

- Head of the ifo surveys
- President of the ifo Institute
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
- 300 firms control/Head of ifo Surveys signature,
- 300 firms control/ifo President signature,
- 300 firms environment/Head of ifo Surveys signature,
- 300 firms environment /ifo President signature,
- 300 firms norm/Head of ifo Surveys signature,
- 300 firms norm /ifo President signature,
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
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