It Takes Two: Experimental Evidence on the Determinants of Technology Diffusion

Journal Article
Published on 1 March 2021

Abstract

Hardy and McCasland (2021) report on an experiment that brings insights from the literature on demand-side determinants of technology adoption to the study of peer-to-peer diffusion. They develop a custom weaving technique and randomly seed training into a real network of garment making firm owners in Ghana. Training leads to limited adoption among trainees, but little to no diffusion to non-trainees. In a second phase, they cross-randomize demand for the technique. Demand shocks increase adoption of the technology in both groups and diffusion to untrained firms, generated by a pattern in which trained firm owners teach approximately 400% more of their peers if they are randomly assigned to the demand intervention. The authors find no evidence that their main effects are driven by differences in ability (learning-by-doing) or other adoption-based mechanisms. Rather, their findings are most consistent with the demand intervention generating differential willingness to diffuse among potential teachers.

    Authors

    Morgan Hardy

    New York University, Abu Dhabi

    Jamie McCasland

    University of British Columbia