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  • Published: 1 February 2022
  • ISBN: 9780241556849
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $35.00

The Voltage Effect



The definitive guide to the science of scalability: how to make good ideas great, and great ideas scale

Why do some ideas make it big while others fail to take off? According to award-winning behavioural economist John List, the answer comes down to a single question: Can the idea scale?

Countless enterprises fall apart the moment they scale; their positive results fizzle, they lose valuable time and money, and the great electric charge of potential that drove them early on disappears. In short, they suffer a voltage drop. Yet success and failure are not about luck - in fact, there is a rhyme and reason as to why some ideas fail and why some make it big. Certain ideas are predictably scalable, while others are predictably destined for disaster.

In The Voltage Effect, University of Chicago economist John A. List explains how to identify the ideas that will be successful when scaled, and how to avoid those that won't. Drawing on his own original research, as well as fascinating examples from the realms of business, government, education, and public health, he details the five signature elements that cause voltage drops, and unpacks the four proven techniques for increasing positive results - or voltage gains - and scaling great ideas to their fullest potential.

By understanding the science of scaling, we can drive change in our schools, workplaces, communities, and society at large. Because a better world can only be built at scale.

  • Published: 1 February 2022
  • ISBN: 9780241556849
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $35.00

Praise for The Voltage Effect

Brilliant, practical, and grounded in the very latest research, this is by far the best book I've ever read on the how and why of scaling. If you care about changing the world, or just want to make better decisions in your own life, The Voltage Effect is for you.

Angela Duckworth, Founder and CEO of Character Lab and New York Times bestselling author of Grit

How many books are funny and wise, practical and profound? John List is a scientist, but he's also a magician, and he's changing the world. The Voltage Effect shows how. This is one of the best economics books I have ever read - and an instant classic in behavioral economics.

Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University, and New York Times bestselling coauthor of Nudge

The Voltage Effect is the toolkit for the ambitious. Packed with proven principles and pro tips made real through inside stories ranging from Silicon Valley to African NGOs to university fund-raising, List fills the gap between startup books and management books to show how any idea can achieve its full potential.

Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit

Ideas from the ivory tower or Davos fail often and fail badly because they do not recognize the deeply political and historical nature of the problems they are trying to deal with and the social realities in which these problems are embedded. This thought-provoking and engaging book proposes an original framework for thinking about how good policy proposals can be applied at a scale large enough to do social good, and for avoiding predictable mistakes that prevent such scaling. A must-read.

Daron Acemoglu, Institute Professor at MIT and co-author of Why Nations Fail and The Narrow Corridor

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