Tristan Botelho: From Audience to Evaluator: The Effect of Social Influence, Status, and Expertise in Evaluation Processes


Thursday, September 29, 2016, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Tata Hall-Room 120, Harvard Business School

Work, Organizations, and Markets Workshop presentation by Tristan Botelho, Economic Sociology, MIT.

A primary goal of evaluation processes is to triangulate on the expected quality of a given candidate, good, or service (offering). Although anecdotal evidence suggests that evaluators are a small proportion of the larger audience who could have selected to rate an offering, the ratings that these evaluators produce significantly impact an offering’s success. It is less clear, however, whether social influence, or the exposure to the average rating from previous evaluators, biases the evaluation process. Specifically, I examine how ratings from previous evaluators affects the likelihood that audience members select to evaluate an offering, and how this selection affects observed ratings. I then unpack the heterogeneous effects of social influence, focusing on audience members’ achieved status and demonstrated expertise. To do so, I use unique data from an organization that provides a knowledge sharing platform for investment professionals. These data allow me to identify not only who rated a recommendation but also all members of the audience who could have submitted a rating. Further, I am able to leverage a natural experiment, particularly whether an audience member was exposed to the average ratings from previous evaluators at the time they selected whether to rate a recommendation, to causally identify the effect of