Multiplexity and Information Transmission: Evidence from the Diffusion of Microfinance in Rural India

Valentina Assenova, Management, The Wharton School

Abstract: How does having multiple kinds of network relations – multiplexity – affect diffusion by word-of-mouth information transmission? This study evaluates this question by drawing on data from a field experiment in Karnataka, India, where a local non-profit, non governmental organization informed a small subset of “leaders” and asked them to promote microfinance participation. On average, less than 20 percent of qualified individuals participated. This article develops and tests the idea that multiplexity in leaders’ personal contact networks undermined the diffusion of microfinance by impeding word-of-mouth information transmission. These findings have essential implications about the dark sides of multiplexity for diffusion through word-of-mouth information.

Read the full working paper here (PDF).