Externalities in Knowledge Production: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment

49 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2019 Last revised: 21 Aug 2021

See all articles by Marit Hinnosaar

Marit Hinnosaar

University of Nottingham

Toomas Hinnosaar

University of Nottingham - School of Economics

Michael E. Kummer

University of East Anglia (UEA)

Olga Slivko

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 11, 2021

Abstract

Are there positive or negative externalities in knowledge production? We analyze whether current contributions to knowledge production increase or decrease the future growth of knowledge. To assess this, we use a randomized field experiment that added content to some pages in Wikipedia while leaving similar pages unchanged. We compare subsequent content growth over the next four years between the treatment and control groups. Our estimates allow us to rule out effects on four-year growth of content length larger than twelve percent. We can also rule out effects on four-year growth of content quality larger than four points, which is less than one-fifth of the size of the treatment itself. The treatment increased editing activity in the first two years, but most of these edits only modified the text added by the treatment. Our results have implications for information seeding and incentivizing contributions. They imply that additional content may inspire future contributions in the short- and medium-term but do not generate large externalities in the long term.

Keywords: knowledge accumulation, user-generated content, Wikipedia, public goods provision, field experiment

JEL Classification: L17, L86, C93

Suggested Citation

Hinnosaar, Marit and Hinnosaar, Toomas and Kummer, Michael and Slivko, Olga, Externalities in Knowledge Production: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment (August 11, 2021). ZEW - Centre for European Economic Research Discussion Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3341630 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3341630

Marit Hinnosaar (Contact Author)

University of Nottingham ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

Toomas Hinnosaar

University of Nottingham - School of Economics ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD
United Kingdom

Michael Kummer

University of East Anglia (UEA) ( email )

Norwich Research Park
Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

Olga Slivko

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University ( email )

RSM Erasmus University
PO Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

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