Testing Coleman’s Social-Norm Enforcement Mechanism: Evidence from Wikipedia

58 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2011 Last revised: 27 Mar 2013

Mikolaj Jan Piskorski

IMD

Andreea D. Gorbatai

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Date Written: March 26, 2013

Abstract

Since Durkheim, sociologists have believed that dense network structures lead to fewer norm violations. Coleman (1990) proposed one mechanism generating this relationship and argued that dense networks provide an opportunity structure to reward those who punish norm violators, leading to more frequent punishment and in turn fewer norm violations. Despite ubiquitous scholarly references to Coleman’s theory, little empirical work has directly tested it in large-scale natural settings with longitudinal data. We undertake such a test using records of norm violations during the editing process on Wikipedia, the largest user-generated on-line encyclopedia. These data allow us to track all three elements required to test Coleman’s mechanism: norm violations, punishments for such violations and rewards for those who punish violations. The results are broadly consistent with Coleman’s mechanism.

Suggested Citation

Piskorski, Mikolaj Jan and Gorbatai, Andreea D., Testing Coleman’s Social-Norm Enforcement Mechanism: Evidence from Wikipedia (March 26, 2013). Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Working Paper No. 11-055. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1926284 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1926284

Mikolaj Jan Piskorski (Contact Author)

IMD ( email )

Ch. de Bellerive 23
P.O. Box 915
CH-1001 Lausanne
Switzerland

Andreea D. Gorbatai

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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