A novel randomized field experiment of a 'business ideas competition' measures peer effects among manufacturing firms in Africa

Fafchamps and Quinn run a novel field experiment to link managers of African manufacturing firms. The experiment features exogenous link formation, exogenous seeding of information and exogenous assignment to treatment and placebo. They study the impact of the experiment on firm business practices outside of the lab. They find that the experiment successfully created new variation in social networks. They find some limited evidence of diffusion of management practices, particularly in terms of firm formalisation and innovation. Such diffusion appears to be a combination of diffusion of innovation and simple imitation.

Marcel Fafchamps and Simon Quinn (2014)