It Takes a Village: Peer Effects and Externalities in Technology Adoption

37 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2018 Last revised: 27 Mar 2019

See all articles by Romain Ferrali

Romain Ferrali

Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Guy Grossman

University of Pennsylvania

Melina Platas

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi

Jonathan Rodden

Stanford University

Date Written: March 20, 2019

Abstract

Do social networks matter for the adoption of new forms of political participation? We develop a formal model showing that the quality of communication that takes place in social networks is central to understanding whether a community will adopt forms of political participation where benefits are uncertain and where there are positive externalities associated with participation. Early adopters may exaggerate benefits, leading others to discount information about the technology's value. Thus, peer effects are likely to emerge only where informal institutions support truthful communication. We collect social network data for sixteen Ugandan villages where an innovative mobile-based reporting platform was introduced. Consistent with our model, we find variation across villages in the extent of peer effects on technology adoption, as well as evidence supporting additional observable implications. Impediments to social diffusion may help explain the varied uptake of new and increasingly common political communication technologies around the world.

Suggested Citation

Ferrali, Romain and Grossman, Guy and Platas, Melina and Rodden, Jonathan, It Takes a Village: Peer Effects and Externalities in Technology Adoption (March 20, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3107855 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3107855

Romain Ferrali

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
United States

Guy Grossman (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

133 S. 36th Street
Perelman Center for Political Science and Economic
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
(215) 898-4209 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://web.sas.upenn.edu/ggros/

Melina Platas

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

HOME PAGE: http://melinaplatas.com

Jonathan Rodden

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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