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Secrets of the Moneylab: How Behavioral Economics Can Improve Your Business Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 2, 2010

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, September 2, 2010
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (September 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591843545
  • ASIN: B004J8HY8A
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,721,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"What can a bunch of college kids playing games in a lab tell us about risk management or compensation plans? A lot, as it turns out. Using laboratory science, field experiments, and examples from well-known companies, Chen and Krakovsky reveal the secrets of how to apply the scientific method to your business practices."
-Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind

"Marina and Kay-Yut show how businesses can understand irrational behavior and, more important, use this understanding to create better practices."
-Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, and The Upside of Irrationality

"It's astonishing that Chen's small laboratory experiments can have such enormous implications for major corporations and small businesses alike, but the results speak for themselves. Any smart business needs a 'moneylab' of its own."
-Ori Brafman, author of Sway and Click

"Of the many recent books on behavioral economics (including my own), none are as effective or insightful as Secrets of the Moneylab in applying the findings from this relatively new and innovative science to the practical world of business. Chen and Krakovsky take you to the front lines of research revealing what people actually do-instead of what theory says they should-and explain how you can put that research to good use in your own business. Every chapter is a gem of practical wisdom grounded in solid science. Read it and be prepared to change your approach."
-Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic, columnist for Scientific American, and author of The Mind of the Market

"Experimental economics methods give corporations an inexpensive tool for avoiding costly mistakes. Chen understands how to put the science to work and the value of doing so."
-Charles R. Plott, Edward S. Harkness Professor, of Economics and Political Science, California Institute of Technology

"Secrets of the Moneylab is an entertaining introduction to the economic principles of risk, choice, trust, and consumer behavior."
-Preston McAfee, vice president and research fellow, at Yahoo! Research and author of Competitive Solutions

"This is a well-written book that clearly articulates the value that experimental economics brings to businesses."
-Bernardo Huberman, Senior HP Fellow and Director of the Social Computing Lab at HP Labs

"This is a brilliant book. It shows you how to apply powerful behavioral economics methods to revolutionize the way you run your business. It is a must- read for any scientifically-minded manager".
-Teck-Hua Ho, William Halford Jr. Family Professor of Marketing, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

About the Author

Kay-Yut Chen established experimental economics research at HP Labs. His work has been featured in Newsweek, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He lives in Santa Clara, California.

Marina Krakovsky has reported for Scientific American, the Washington Post, and the New York Times Magazine. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard P. Green II on January 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This makes a fairly good introduction to some of the concepts of behavioral economics, but lacks depth and an exhaustive list of references for further study.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Merkel on February 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Behavioral economics is hot among investors, particularly value investors. But the real advantage of behavioral economics is probably not to investors, but to businessmen setting their pricing, because men do not look to maximize utility, but rather to do good enough, and get a better deal than peers. Men don't think absolutely, but rather relatively. Homo Oeconomicus does not exist.

People will refuse unfair allocations in a deal, even if it makes them better off on average. There is a sense of fairness in all that people do, exceeding the need for personal gain, except when times are tough.

Machiavelli said, "It is better to be feared than be loved." I have found it is better to be loved than feared. I have worked in businesses where fear was significant, and I found that treating people with love and fairness created far more value than fear.

This is another case where doing what is good leads to more profits not only in long run, but even in the short run.

Play games with people offering them wages in short-term that are high, and yes, you will get more productivity from them, but businesses exist not just for the moment, but for the long-term. Motivating people in the long run is a lot more difficult. The weakness of this book is focusing on short term experiments, and assuming that they apply to the long run challenges of business.

Reputation is important in business and in life. Unlike other aspects of business, you can't diversify reputation. You only get one. People are far more willing to do business with someone that has a good reputation than one who does not. A related concept is trust. People are far more willing to take chances with those that they trust.
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Format: Hardcover
As a mathematician and businessman I am fascinated by game theory concepts that have applications to business and economics. Chen is the lead economist for HP's economic research labs, where experiments in behavioral economics are conducted and analyzed. While it may seem that such a thing would be very difficult to do, there are many aspects of business and economic behavior that can be modeled fairly easily and inexpensively.
For example, there is the Ultimatum Game, where two people that do not know each other are each given $10. One of the players is then required to offer the other player some of their $10 and if the offer is accepted, both keep what they have, the first player the balance and the second the original $10 plus what was offered. However, if the offer is rejected, then both receive nothing. This game is an excellent model for simple one-offer only negotiations. It includes the desire to maximize return with the emotional response of receiving what is perceived to be an unfair offer.
Another simple game is the Dictator Game, where the first player offers and the second player has no veto power. Since there was no risk to the first player, the size of the offers in this game is lower than for the Ultimatum Game, often being zero. However, many players do implement a sense of fairness and offer the second player something. The dynamics of this game dramatically change when there is the potential for future interaction between the players.
A final experimental tactic discussed in detail is where opinions are solicited from a broad spectrum of people. While this technique can be helpful and provide valuable insight, improperly used it can be counterproductive and many of the dangers are explained.
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