Social Nudges Boost Productivity on Online Platforms: Evidence from Field Experiments

41 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2020 Last revised: 8 Jun 2020

See all articles by Zhiyu Zeng

Zhiyu Zeng

Tsinghua University - Department of Industrial Engineering

Hengchen Dai

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management

Dennis Zhang

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School

Zuo-Jun Max Shen

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Industrial Engineering & Operations Research (IEOR)

Zhiwei Xu

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Heng Zhang

Supply Chain Management Department - W.P.Carey School of Business

Renyu (Philip) Zhang

New York University Shanghai

Date Written: May 27, 2020

Abstract

Extending prior work studying how managers can lift productivity, we examine a low-cost, information-based intervention that is conducted by other agents in the work environment. Specifically, we study social nudges on online platforms whereby co-users connected with a worker on a platform (or “neighbors”) encourage the worker to produce more (content, products, or services). We expect social nudges to boost productivity by conveying neighbors’ recognition. To test the effectiveness of social nudges, we conducted a randomized field experiment (N=1,526,574) on a video-sharing social network platform where users can act as both content providers and viewers. Treatment providers could receive a message sent by their neighbors encouraging them to produce more videos, whereas control providers could not. Such a simple social nudge boosted video supply by 9.05% and the number of active providers by 10.27% on the receiving day, subsequently increasing the video consumption of these providers' content by 5.56%. Providers who were historically less recognized exhibited larger effects. We also demonstrate that social nudges indeed expand, instead of simply shifting, supply of video content and that the productivity benefits of receiving a social nudge can last five days. Furthermore, leveraging another experiment where treatment providers could receive a message from the platform encouraging them to produce more videos, we provide suggestive evidence that social nudges from neighbors more strongly boost productivity than nudges from the platform. We replicate the main effect of social nudges in a second experiment. Our findings highlight the value of leveraging co-user influence for online platforms.

Keywords: Social Nudge, Information-based Interventions, Productivity, Online Platform Operations, Field Experiment

Suggested Citation

Zeng, Zhiyu and Dai, Hengchen and Zhang, Dennis and Shen, Zuo-Jun Max and Xu, Zhiwei and Zhang, Heng and Zhang, Renyu, Social Nudges Boost Productivity on Online Platforms: Evidence from Field Experiments (May 27, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3611571 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3611571

Zhiyu Zeng (Contact Author)

Tsinghua University - Department of Industrial Engineering ( email )

Beijing
China

Hengchen Dai

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

Dennis Zhang

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Zuo-Jun Max Shen

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Industrial Engineering & Operations Research (IEOR) ( email )

IEOR Department
4135 Etcheverry Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Zhiwei Xu

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Heng Zhang

Supply Chain Management Department - W.P.Carey School of Business ( email )

Tempe, AZ
United States

Renyu Zhang

New York University Shanghai ( email )

1555 Century Avenue
Shanghai, 200122
China
86-21-20595135 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://rphilipzhang.github.io/rphilipzhang/index.html

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