Within the emerging field of experimental economics, field experiments (that is, experiments in natural settings as opposed to the lab) have a distinct place, for they are designed to act as a obridge' between lab experiments and the real world. They are of particular sociological interest because they claim to explain phenomena hitherto seen as sociologys terrain, and some exponents see economics as capturing that terrain. Field experiments in work relations are taken as the focus because these relations throw particular light on the operation of social factors in experimental settings. The experiments have two linked weaknesses: they see these social factors as largely fixed attributes of individuals rather than as collective phenomena emerging through interaction; and they have an ontology which is limited in its ability to recognize multiple causal powers and causal conditions. These can be overcome through a sociological view of labour relations as a contested terrain combined with a realist ontology. This view offers guides to further experiments and forms the basis of a well-constructed bridge.
- C93 field experiments
- J50 labormanagement relations
- social norms
- economic sociology
- economic methodology