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Group Size and Incentives to Contribute: A Natural Experiment at Chinese Wikipedia

17 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2007 Last revised: 1 Sep 2014

Xiaoquan (Michael) Zhang

Chinese University of Hong Kong; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Center for Digital Business

Feng Zhu

Harvard University - Harvard Business School

Date Written: March 18, 2010

Abstract

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.

Keywords: incentives to contribute, group size, public goods, social effects, Wikipedia, Internet censorship

JEL Classification: D85, H44, L14, L31, L86

Suggested Citation

Zhang, Xiaoquan (Michael) and Zhu, Feng, Group Size and Incentives to Contribute: A Natural Experiment at Chinese Wikipedia (March 18, 2010). American Economic Review, Forthcoming; NET Institute Working Paper No. 07-22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1021450

Xiaoquan (Michael) Zhang (Contact Author)

Chinese University of Hong Kong ( email )

Shatin, N.T.
Hong Kong

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Center for Digital Business ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Feng Zhu

Harvard University - Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 431
Boston, MA 02163
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/profile.aspx?facId=14938

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