It Takes a Village: Peer Effects and Externalities in Technology AdoptionJournal articleRomain Ferrali, Guy Grossman, Melina R. Platas and Jonathan Rodden, American Journal of Political Science, Volume 64, Issue 3, pp. 536-553, 2020

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 when informal institutions support truthful communication. We collect social network data for 16 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.

Partners in crime? Corruption as a criminal networkJournal articleRomain Ferrali, Games and Economic Behavior, Volume 124, pp. 319-353, 2020

How does the structure of an organization affect corruption? This paper analyzes a model that views organizations as networks on which coalitions of corrupt accomplices may form. This network approach to corruption provides new insights into the problem: (i) corruption will arise in enclaves, i.e. coalitions that minimize joint exposure to witnesses, (ii) making the organization more connected may increase corruption, and (iii) corruption will involve larger coalitions under better monitoring. Simulation results also suggest that more hierarchical organizations are more corrupt than flatter organizations. I test these predictions in the lab. Results confirm the predictions and reveal a systematic deviation that has implications for why better monitoring reduces corruption: participants disproportionately fail to realize larger coalitions, which are more necessary under good monitoring. Results suggest it would be sensible to redesign public agencies to puncture the isolation of enclaves.