Group Size and Incentives to Contribute: A Natural Experiment at Chinese Wikipedia
Xiaoquan (Michael) Zhang
Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST); Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Center for Digital Business
Harvard University - Harvard Business School
March 18, 2010
American Economic Review, Forthcoming
NET Institute Working Paper No. 07-22
The literature on the private provision of public goods suggests an inverse relationship between incentives to contribute and group size. We find, however, that after an exogenous reduction of group size at Chinese Wikipedia, the nonblocked contributors decrease their contributions by 42.8% on average. We attribute the cause to social effects: Contributors receive social benefits that increase with both the amount of their contributions and group size, and the shrinking group size weakens these social benefits. Consistent with our explanation, we find that the more contributors value social benefits, the more they reduce their contributions after the block.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 17
Keywords: incentives to contribute, group size, public goods, social effects, Wikipedia, Internet censorship
JEL Classification: D85, H44, L14, L31, L86Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 15, 2007 ; Last revised: December 23, 2010
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