Seeing is believing? Evidence from an extension network experiment

Florence Kondylis, Valerie Mueller, Jessica Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Extension is designed to enable lab-to-farm technology diffusion. Decentralized models assume that information flows from researchers to extension workers, and from extension agents to contact farmers (CFs). CFs should then train other farmers in their communities. Such a modality may fail to address informational inefficiencies and accountability issues. We run a field experiment to measure the impact of augmenting the CF model with a direct CF training on the diffusion of a new technology. All villages have CFs and access the same extension network. In treatment villages, CFs additionally receive a three-day, central training on the new technology. We track information transmission through two nodes of the extension network: from extension agents to CFs, and from CFs to other farmers. Directly training CFs leads to a large, statistically significant increase in adoption among CFs. However, higher levels of CF adoption have limited impact on the behavior of other farmers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Development Economics
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Africa
  • Agriculture
  • Information failure
  • Technology diffusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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