Peer Effects and Externalities in Technology Adoption: Evidence from Community Reporting in Uganda

73 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2018

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: January 23, 2018

Abstract

Do social networks matter for the adoption of new political communication technologies? We collect complete social network data for sixteen Ugandan villages where an innovative reporting mobile platform was recently introduced, and show robust evidence of peer effects on technology adoption. However, peer effects were not observed in all networks. We develop a formal model showing that while peer effects facilitate adoption of technologies with minimal externalities (like agricultural practices), it can be more difficult for innovations with significant positive externalities to spread through a network. Early adopters might 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 show that the observable implications of our model are borne out in the data. These impediments to social diffusion might help explain the slow and varied uptake of new political communication technologies around the world.

Suggested Citation

Ferrali, Romain and Grossman, Guy and Platas, Melina and Rodden, Jonathan, Peer Effects and Externalities in Technology Adoption: Evidence from Community Reporting in Uganda (January 23, 2018). 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 )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
(215) 898-4209 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://guygrossman.com/

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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