Assistant Professor of Business Administration
Vineet Kumar is an Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the Marketing Unit. He teaches the first-year required M.B.A. course on Marketing, and in the executive education program Taking Marketing Digital
Vineet's research focus is on understanding the drivers of value creation in technology products and services, and strategies that firms should adopt in designing such products. His current interests cover a broad range within the technology+marketing interface, including studying: (a) product strategy and technological innovation, (b) designing social products to engage consumers, (c) gamification strategies to create consumer value (d) product design and development using a freemium model.
Vineet received his undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, and completed his masters and doctoral studies at Carnegie Mellon University. His doctoral thesis research, which used structural econometric modeling to unravel the drivers of value creation for social products, was awarded the William W. Cooper Doctoral Dissertation Award. Vineet has held positions in the technology industry, working at established as well as start-up companies prior to his doctoral studies.
Why Do Consumers Contribute to Connected Goods? A Dynamic Game of Competition and Cooperation in Social Networks
Social network platforms and media rely on the voluntary contributions of individual users to stay relevant. Consumers (users) contribute content such as photographs, videos, tweets etc.: these are available to any of their friends or peers, but not to unaffiliated consumers. We term such contributions connected goods, since they occur in the context of users connected by a social network. A primary feature of connected goods is that the contributor or purchaser may not obtain consumption utility by contributing (for example, posting new videos on a Facebook account), but rather the user’s peers obtain consumption utility from these contributions. Understanding the drivers of contributions to connected goods is critical to both the social platform as well as advertisers who rely of traffic.
We formulate consumers’ decisions on when to actively contribute content to the social network as a dynamic game in the tradition of Ericson and Pakes (1995), and focus on Markov Perfect Equilibrium as the solution concept. In this game, forward-looking consumers strategically manage their contributions to maximize long-term utility that incorporates three primary effects. The first effect is self-expression, indicating con- sumers obtain an intrinsic benefit for contributions based on conveying an updated expression to their peers. The second effect is the competition for status, which depends on the positional contribution status relative to the consumer’s peers. The third effect is that consumers obtain consumption utility from the contribution made by their peers. Our model provides a general framework to rationalize why strategic consumers find making contributions to connected goods advantageous to their self-interest: with knowledge on the positional contribution status of peers in the social network, a consumer makes a contribution to compete for higher status in the network, and this contribution encourages further contributions from peers, which in turn increase the consumer’s future consumption utility.
Treating purchases of ringback tones as contributions to connected goods, we estimate the model using data on a network of interconnected mobile phone subscribers provided by a global cellular firm. Adapting recent developments in the estimation of dynamic games to social network competition, we derive estimates that characterize conspicuous contribution decisions and conduct policy simulations to investigate how a contribution made by one influential consumer can dynamically affect peer consumers in the social network.
Dynamics of Network Structure and Content in Social Media
Organizations use social media to leverage knowledge contributions by individual employees, which also foster social interactions – activity in blogs, forums, wikis etc. is critical to ensuring a thriving online community. Prior studies have examined contributions to such media at the level of the individual, focusing on drivers of participation, whereas we investigate three different dimensions of dyadic interactions. Our setting is an online forum in an enterprise, where employees both exchange knowledge by query-response and interact socially.
Using a networks approach to query-response behavior, we characterize each interaction as a directed tie, and view the entire set of online forum interactions as a social network. We evaluate network constructs including Simmelian embeddedness and content of relationships (expressive or instrumental), to understand the mechanisms underlying online social interactions.
We find that content and embedded nature of the relationship strongly influence responses: Simmelian ties formed in an expressive setting have the highest positive impact on response propensity, i.e. both content and embeddedness are impactful and reinforce each other. Our results have implications for designing online social communities, specifically that practitioners ought to consider the benefits of purely social interactions through the forum that may serve to lubricate future instrumental interactions.