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Essays on communication, social interactions and information

Battiston, Diego (2018) Essays on communication, social interactions and information. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.9kw5dg992opy


This thesis consists of three papers in the broad field of Applied Economics. I focus on three “soft factors”, namely, face-to-face communication, brief social interactions and information updates. I study on how they affect individual and organisational outcomes using different natural experiments. The first chapter provides causal evidence on how the ability to communicate face-to-face (in addition to electronic communication) can increase organisational performance. The study exploits a natural experiment within a large organisation where workers must communicate electronically with their teammates. A computerized system allocates the tasks to workers creating exogenous variation in the co-location of teammates. Workers who share the same room, can also communicate in person. The main findings are that face-to-face communication increases productivity and that this effect significantly varies across tasks, team characteristics and working environments. In the second chapter I construct a novel dataset of immigrants and ships arrived to the US in the early 20th century to study the effects of brief social interactions and their persistence over time. The chapter shows that individuals travelling (during few days) with shipmates that have better connections in the US, have higher quality jobs. Several findings are consistent with the mechanism whereby individuals get information or access to job opportunities from their shipmates. The study highlights the importance of social interactions with unknown individuals during critical life junctures. It also suggests that they are more relevant for individuals with poor access to information or weak social networks. The third chapter shows that executions cause a local and temporary reduction in serious violent crime. The interpretation of this result follows from a theoretical framework connecting information updates with the increasing ’awareness’ of individuals about the consequences of crime. Consistently with the predictions of the model, the study finds that effects are stronger when media attention is high and lower in places with high propensity to apply the death penalty.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Diego Ezequiel Battiston
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Sets: Departments > Economics
Supervisor: Manning, Alan

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