Culture and Innovation


Akash Sood

Doctoral Student at the School of Information


The dimension of tightness-looseness, which captures the strength of social norms and tolerance of deviation from those norms, has been widely used by social psychologists to study culture. Prior research, mostly based on observational data, has found that cultural tightness is correlated with lower rates of innovation across countries and regions within a country.

Our paper utilizes the difference in social norms between historically rice and non-rice growing areas as a source of exogenous variation for cultural tightness-looseness. This is based on the Rice Theory which predicts that historically rice growing regions of the world have stronger norms of cooperation in the present day compared to pastoral regions or agricultural regions that grew other crops. We seek to provide causal evidence for the effect of cultural tightness on innovation through an online field experiment in India, utilizing the Rice Theory as an instrument.