Why do business schools have behavioral labs?

August 2016 /

Behavioral research labs are unique to business schools, learn about what they are and why they exist.

After the Great Recession, business schools started ramping up their menu of specializations to meet the demand of students eager to differentiate themselves as experts in a given area. They expanded into behavioral research to focus on business related topics and enhance research productivity of faculty. It has become a way to distinguish their programs and academic curriculum from other business schools. From 2009 through 2013, over 200 institutions in North America alone have installed special purpose behavioral research rooms on campus to enhance experimental learning in the financial curriculum.

Behavioral labs investigate human decision-making, consumer behavior, economic incentives and group behavior. In a typical research lab, subjects complete questionnaires, participate in online experiments, or interact in groups. They are generally asked to evaluate a product, perform a decision task, or interact with other participants in an economic situation. Using technology to monitor and record data, researchers hope to minimize operational costs, both in time and money, of conducting research.

Research obtained from behavioral labs is applicable to real world environments and has provided valuable information to increase work productivity. At Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, researcher Fabio Pinna observed consumer search behavior in a brick-and-mortar store environment, using a unique data set obtained from radio frequency identification tags. At Harvard Business School, researcher Jooa Julia Lee studied weather patterns and office productivity, to correlate bad weather to good productivity.

The research coming out of research labs have far enhanced productivity and provided vital information for businesses. Behavior labs are essential to answer some of the most complex questions regarding human behavior and financial situations.

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