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Traditionally, economics has been viewed as a non-experimental science that has to rely exclusively on field data. However, this was seen as an obstacle to the continued development of economics as a science, and as strongly restricting the possibility of testing economic theory. This view has been challenged by the growing development of experimental economics since the 1960s.
Recent contributions by leading NIE scholars are viewing experimental economics as a promising method for future development of the NIE research program (Ménard 2001; Joskow 2003). These claims remain vague. The aim of this chapter is to suggest how NIE economists could benefit from carrying out experiments in addition to other empirical methodologies they are already using.
The paper is divided into three sections. Section 7.2 briefly presents the basic principles of experimental economics. It insists that, among the various uses to which laboratory experiments have been put in economics, the most useful for NIE lies in its capacity to generate laboratory data which may be used to test predictions and refine behavioral hypotheses. We then highlight two fields of research for which we think there are adequacies of research agenda between experimental economics (EE) and NIE: analysis of individual behaviour (Section 7.3) and assessment of institutional properties and performance as well as institutional design (Section 7.4). The main results obtained in these fields are then presented, focussing on their originality and how they might fit into the NIE research agenda.
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