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Measuring Illegal and Legal Corruption in American States: Some Results from the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics Corruption in America Survey

December 16, 2014 Comments off

Measuring Illegal and Legal Corruption in American States: Some Results from the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics Corruption in America Survey
Source: Harvard University (Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics)

Although corruption is not endemic in America as it is in several other countries, it does exist. According to the Justice Department, in the last two decades more than 20,000 public officials and private individuals were convicted for crimes related to corruption and more than 5,000 are awaiting trial, the overwhelming majority of cases having originated in state and local governments.1 Understanding the causes and the consequences of corruption and designing the policies in the fight against it starts with measuring corruption itself. How do we measure corruption, an activity that requires secrecy? The most commonly used measure of corruption in American states comes from the Justice Department’s “Report to Congress on the Activities and Operations of the Public Integrity Section.” These data cover a broad range of crimes from election fraud to wire fraud. The measure, based on the Justice Department data, suffers from several significant problems, however.

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Design of Search Engine Services: Channel Interdependence in Search Engine Results

December 2, 2014 Comments off

Design of Search Engine Services: Channel Interdependence in Search Engine Results (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

The authors examine prominent placement of search engines’ own services and effects on users’ choice of destinations. Using a natural experiment in which different results were shown to users who performed similar searches, they find that Google’s prominent placement of its Flight Search service increased the clicks on paid advertising listings by more than half while decreasing the clicks on organic search listings by about the same quantity. User substitution disproportionately affected the most visited travel sites, reducing use of organic listings sending no-charge traffic to those sites by lowering their prominence and perceived importance, while highlighting paid listings to the same sites. The authors consider the implications of such changes for online marketers and for search engine operators.

Financial Development and Technology Diffusion

December 2, 2014 Comments off

Financial Development and Technology Diffusion
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

We examine the extent to which financial market development impacts the diffusion of 16 major technologies, looking across 55 countries, from 1870 to 2000. We find that greater depth in financial markets leads to faster technology diffusion for more capital-intensive technologies, but only in periods closer to the invention of the technology. In fact, we find no differential effect of financial depth on the diffusion of capital-intensive technologies in the late stages of diffusion or in late adopters. Our results are consistent with a view that local financial markets play a critical role in facilitating the process of experimentation that is required for the initial commercialization of technologies. This evidence also points to an important mechanism relating financial market development to technology diffusion and economic growth.

An Economy Doing Half Its Job: Findings of Harvard Business School’s 2013 – 14 Survey on U.S. Competitiveness

November 4, 2014 Comments off

An Economy Doing Half Its Job: Findings of Harvard Business School’s 2013 – 14 Survey on U.S. Competitiveness (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School

In 2013–14, Harvard Business School (HBS) conducted its third alumni survey on U.S. competitiveness. Our report on the findings focuses on a troubling divergence in the American economy: large and midsize firms have rallied strongly from the Great Recession, and highly skilled individuals are prospering. But middle- and working-class citizens are struggling, as are small businesses. We argue that such a divergence is unsustainable, explore its root causes, and examine actions that might mitigate it. We ask in particular, how can we create a U.S. economy in which firms both thrive in global competition and lift the living standards of the average American?

Don’t Take ‘No’ for an Answer: An Experiment with Actual Organ Donor Registrations

November 3, 2014 Comments off

Don’t Take ‘No’ for an Answer: An Experiment with Actual Organ Donor Registrations
Source: Harvard Business School Working Paper

Over 10,000 people in the U.S. die each year while waiting for an organ. Attempts to increase organ transplantation have focused on changing the registration question from an opt-in frame to an active choice frame. We analyze this change in California and show it decreased registration rates. Similarly, a “field in the lab” experiment run on actual organ donor registration decisions finds no increase in registrations resulting from an active choice frame. In addition, individuals are more likely to support donating the organs of a deceased who did not opt-in than one who said “no” in an active choice frame.

Are Bankers Worth Their Pay? Evidence from a Talent Measure

October 31, 2014 Comments off

Are Bankers Worth Their Pay? Evidence from a Talent Measure (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

This paper investigates empirically the source of the wage premium in the finance industry. We exploit the ranking in a competitive examination to build a precise measure of talent. By using a comprehensive compensation survey among an educational elite, we show that wage returns to talent are relatively high in the finance industry. This higher sensitivity to talent explains both the finance wage premium and its evolution.

Do Experts or Collective Intelligence Write with More Bias? Evidence from Encyclopædia Britannica and Wikipedia

October 22, 2014 Comments off

Do Experts or Collective Intelligence Write with More Bias? Evidence from Encyclopædia Britannica and Wikipedia (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

Which source of information contains greater bias and slant-text written by an expert or that constructed via collective intelligence? Do the costs of acquiring, storing, displaying, and revising information shape those differences? We evaluate these questions empirically by examining slanted and biased phrases in content on U.S. political issues from two sources-Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia. Our overall slant measure is less (more) than zero when an article leans towards Democrat (Republican) viewpoints, while bias is the absolute value of the slant. Using a matched sample of pairs of articles from Britannica and Wikipedia, we show that, overall, Wikipedia articles are more slanted towards Democrat than Britannica articles, as well as more biased. Slanted Wikipedia articles tend to become less biased than Britannica articles on the same topic as they become substantially revised, and the bias on a per word basis hardly differs between the sources. These results have implications for the segregation of readers in online sources and the allocation of editorial resources in online sources using collective intelligence.

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