World Bank Research Team Wins Practice Prize Award

The 2015-2016 Gary Lilien ISMS-MSI Practice Prize was awarded to Stephen Anderson-Macdonald, Stanford University, Rajesh Chandy, London Business School, and Bilal Zia, World Bank, for “The Impact of Marketing Skills on Business Growth, Prosperity, and Survival: Insights from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Collaboration with the World Bank.”

The Award competition took place June 17 at the INFORMS Society for Marketing Science Conference in Shanghai, where five finalists presented research that used marketing science modeling approaches to help firms improve performance.

“We know that applied marketing science can improve business practice, and this year’s winning entry also demonstrates that marketing can enhance social welfare,” noted MSI CMO Earl Taylor, who served on the panel of judges for the competition.

The World Bank team presented evidence from the first randomized evaluation of the impact of sales and marketing skills training relative to finance skills on business practice and performance among micro-enterprises in Cape Town, South Africa. The team offered intensive sales and marketing training to one randomly selected group of entrepreneurs, intensive finance and accounting training to another, and no training to a control group.

The team found that marketing skills have a substantial impact on business growth, employment, and prosperity. Both financial and marketing training increased profits by an average of 61% and owner happiness by about 10%. However, while financial training tended to improve profits relative to the control by reducing costs, marketing increased them by growing the business and employing more staff.

The other finalists were: 

  • Thomas Blake, eBay Research Labs, Chris Nosko, University of Chicago and eBay Research Labs, and Steven Tadelis, UC Berkeley and eBay Research Labs, “Consumer Heterogeneity and Paid Search Effectiveness: A Large Scale Field Experiment”
  • Joost Bosma, National Dutch Railways, Martin Heijnsbroek, MIcompany, and Peter C. Verhoef, University of Groningen, “An Analytical Based Service Monitor and Improvement System for the National Dutch Railways: A Big Data Approach”
  • Vivek F. Farias, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Srikanth Jagabathula, New York University, and Devavrat Shah, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Building Optimized and Hyperlocal Product Assortments: A Nonparametric Choice Approach used by Celect”
  • Marc Fischer, University of Cologne and University of Technology Sydney, “Managing Advertising Campaigns for New Product Launches in the Automobile Industry: An Application at Mercedes-Benz”

Established in 2003, the Gary Lilien ISMS-MSI Practice Prize is awarded for an outstanding implementation of marketing science concepts and methods. In addition to ISMS and MSI, the prize is co-sponsored by EMAC and Marketing Science.  

Videos of past finalists and winners are available at



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