Valentina Assenova, Management, The Wharton School
Abstract: This study evaluates how having multiple kinds of relations – multiplexity – affects diffusion by word-of-mouth information transmission. The study uses data from a field experiment in 49 remote villages in Karnataka, India. The experiment used “leaders” in each community tasked with raising awareness and promoting microfinance participation among their contacts. The article develops and tests the idea that multiplex ties encouraged microfinance participation through social learning (Hypothesis 1), but that multiplex ties negatively moderated the benefits of word-of-mouth information through experimentally seeded leaders (Hypothesis 2). The results support these hypotheses and suggest that multiplexity created conflicting interests among leaders to recommend microfinance. The article concludes with implications for how multiplexity affects learning and information transmission within communities and organizations.