Network Multiplexity and The Spread of Complex Innovations: Evidence From a Microfinance Intervention in India

Valentina Assenova, Management, The Wharton School

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to examine how network multiplexity shapes the speed of information flows and the spread of complex innovations, those requiring social validation from multiple sources for their adoption. Prior sociological theory and research have focused on tie-level and actor-level properties of multiplex ties, but have given insufficient consideration to how interlock among multiple types of networks shapes the benefits of information in diffusion processes. This study fundamentally advances our understanding of these processes by showing that interlock among distinct types of networks affect the speed of information flows and the extent of social validation for complex innovations. Using panel data from an informational field experiment among 49,561 people in 43 Indian villages, I show that interlock among communal and economic networks in the villages undermined microfinance participation in the villages over time. I discuss implications of these findings for studies of social processes on networks.

Michelle Eckert is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Mack Institute, where she works to engage students, researchers, and corporate partners in opportunities for collaboration. Michelle received her B.A. in Art from Valparaiso University in 2007. Her background includes two AmeriCorps terms of service working to teach mathematics, computer literacy, and job readiness skills to out-of-school youth in Philadelphia, focusing particularly on promoting access to post-secondary education.