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Experimental Research

Experimentation is one of the main techniques employed within empirical research. The important thing about experimentation is that it makes possible the assessment of apparent causal connections – in other words, it provides detailed insights into the way that factors influence objective criteria; for instance, it can show us how product design impacts on preferences and sales. It is through experimentation that we can discover correlations and make decisions on their basis.

In order to adequately perform experiments in the laboratory, field or in virtual reality, the necessary methodological expertise and experience with the methods to be employed are required. We have extensive experience of experimentation and we are constantly adding to this as new technological options become available. One of our main objectives is to impart our expertise in this sector through courses and joint projects to students, executives and businesses.

 

Projects

Audi: Product configuration made easy

At the commencement of a configuration process, many businesses need to deal with a vast number of potential attributes and attribute characteristics that might appeal to customers. The corresponding complexity has a negative effect on satisfaction with the configuration process and the evaluation of the resultant product. In this project commissioned by Audi, we are looking at whether the use of preconfigurations based on preferences expressed by customers can have a positive effect on the configuration process and the product. The experimental studies have demonstrated that preference-based configurators can indeed have a constructive effect; this is being verified on the basis of data supplied by Audi.

Verkehrsdienst Z├╝rich: traffic control services. Light conditions and driving behaviour

How do drivers react to changes to the quality of lighting in their surroundings? A detailed secondary data analysis shows that, paradoxically, they tend to speed up when the (natural) ambient light worsens. In view of this, the aim is to discover whether driving speeds can be reduced by means of improving (artificial) street lighting. This project is being implemented in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. Two publications are being prepared; one of these is at the review stage.

Audi: Configuration: east vs. west

Is it possible to use the configuration systems traditionally employed in western markets for the Asian growth markets? Orientals tend to have a holistic mindset while Europeans prefer an analytical approach. These cultural differences are also apparent in the behaviour of consumers; Orientals respond more readily to parallel configuration formats while western consumers are more partial to sequential formats. This project is being undertaken in collaboration with Columbia University and Nanyang Technical University; a publication is currently undergoing review.