Can Network Theory-Based Targeting Increase Technology Adoption?

62 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2018 Last revised: 9 Aug 2018

See all articles by Lori A. Beaman

Lori A. Beaman

Northwestern University - Department of Economics

Ariel BenYishay

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics

Jeremy Magruder

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics

Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak

Yale School of Management; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 3, 2018

Abstract

In order to induce farmers to adopt a productive new agricultural technology, we apply simple and complex contagion diffusion models on rich social network data from 200 villages in Malawi to identify seed farmers to target and train on the new technology. A randomized controlled trial compares these theory-driven network targeting approaches to simpler strategies that either rely on a government extension worker or an easily measurable proxy for the social network (geographic distance between households) to identify seed farmers. Our results indicate that technology diffusion is characterized by a complex contagion learning environment in which most farmers need to learn from multiple people before they adopt themselves. Network theory based targeting can out-perform traditional approaches to extension, and we identify methods to realize these gains at low cost to policymakers.

Keywords: Social Learning, Agricultural Technology Adoption, Complex Contagion, Malawi

JEL Classification: O16, O13

Suggested Citation

Beaman, Lori A. and BenYishay, Ariel and Magruder, Jeremy and Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq, Can Network Theory-Based Targeting Increase Technology Adoption? (August 3, 2018). Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper No. 2139; Yale University Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper No. 1062. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3225815 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3225815

Lori A. Beaman

Northwestern University - Department of Economics ( email )

2003 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/~lab823/

Ariel BenYishay

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics ( email )

Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States

Jeremy Magruder

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States
203-432-5787 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://mba.yale.edu/faculty/profiles/mobarak.shtml

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

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