Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2013

Networks as Covers: Evidence from an On-Line Social Network

by Mikolaj Jan Piskorski

Abstract

This paper proposes that networks give actors a cover by giving them the excuse of sociability to engage in normatively prohibited market behaviors. I apply this hypothesis to actors in long-term exclusive relationships who are surreptitiously seeking new relationships without jeopardizing their current ones. I hypothesize that these actors will be drawn to social environments where others socialize with their friends, and that they will establish numerous relationships in these environments to cover up their real intent. I find significant support for these predictions using data from a large on-line social network.

Keywords: Strategy; Behavior; Ethics; Relationships; Social and Collaborative Networks;

Citation:

Piskorski, Mikolaj Jan. "Networks as Covers: Evidence from an On-Line Social Network." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 13-083, March 2013.