Evolve Digital - The adoption of new technology in small family businesses

Last registered on May 23, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Evolve Digital - The adoption of new technology in small family businesses
Initial registration date
May 12, 2021

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
May 14, 2021, 9:38 AM EDT

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

Last updated
May 23, 2022, 5:19 AM EDT

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


Primary Investigator

Cavendish Enterprise

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Warwick Business School

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
The trial seeks to identify a cost-effective, yet productivity-enhancing programme of peer-group learning for family business SMEs which can be replicated and run at scale.
The experiment addresses a key problem faced by the long-tail of low-productivity businesses in England by seeking to reduce barriers to the adoption of digital technologies that have been demonstrated to increase productivity.
By selecting family businesses with low rates of digital technology adoption and working with them in facilitated peer-groups the trial seeks to provide:

- the demonstration of measurable improvements in intent to adopt productivity enhancing digital technologies

- evidence of some adoption of the technologies before the end of the trial

- in the longer term, measurable increases in productivity, shown using data-matching methods
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Roper, Stephen and Doug Scott. 2022. "Evolve Digital - The adoption of new technology in small family businesses." AEA RCT Registry. May 23. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7670-2.0
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


Introduction and group formation
Workshops for digital adoption
Mini design sprints
Facilitated group reflection
Review and action planning
Encouraging the maintenance of the digital community
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. Increases in confidence to implement digital technologies
2. Improvements in proxy measures for productivity
3. Creation of effective peer learning networks
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
1. User-assessed, indirectly, by questionnaire
2. Purchase, installation and use of defined digital technologies, actual productivity improvement, where available
3. User assessed, direct and indirect, by questionnaire

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The Evolve Digital trial is profiled in the Figure below. The trial has two arms with trial subjects being UK- based family firms with less than 50 employees. In most cases firms will be in the 5-10 employee range. Baseline data will be collected after firms are accep- ted for inclusion in the trial and before randomisation. In addition to the treatment and control groups a comparison group from the general population of firms will also be included. These firms will be re- cruited to have characteristics broadly similar to the combined treatment and control groups. They will receive no treatment. A follow-up telephone survey of the treatment, control and comparison groups will be undertaken six months after the completion of the treatment.
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
7 cohorts with 40 SMEs in each, totalling 140 treated SMEs and 140 in a control
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
140 treated SMEs (Treatment intervention + control intervention + pre- and post-intervention questionnaires)
140 control group of SMEs (Control intervention and pre- and post-intervention questionnaires only)
140 comparison group of SMEs (Pre- and post-intervention questionnaires only)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Intention to adopt (a four-item scale): For n=140, assuming control group mean=2, treatment group mean=3 and SD=2, then at 5%, power = 0.84. Attitude toward using (a three item scale): For n=140, assuming control group mean=1, treatment group mean=2 and SD=2, then at 5%, power = 0.84.

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?
Intervention Completion Date
July 09, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
February 18, 2022, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
116 Treatment
97 Control
121 Comparison
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
116 Treatment
97 Control
121 Comparison
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
116 Treatment 97 Control 121 Comparison
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials