Data for decision making in government: An interview with Benjamin Jones, Kellogg School of Management

As management guru Peter Drucker noted, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Managers need data, in other words, to inform their decisions. But what types of data?

Benjamin Jones joins us to discuss different types of data that can be used to make decisions, including anecdotes, summary statistics, correlations, and the results from experiments (also known as randomized controlled trials). Each type of data has different advantages.

We also explore the difference between “operational” experiments (ones that test how to improve programs or services by comparing different approaches) and “existential” experiments (ones that test whether a program works or not) and hear about why the former are often the more relevant in public policy settings.

Benjamin Jones is an Associate Professor of Management and Strategy at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the faculty director of the Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative. He served as the senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers and earlier served in the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

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