Erin Krupka is an assistant professor at the School of Information. She is an experimental behavioral economist who explores the ways in which social incentives and environmental factors influence behavior, using both laboratory and field experiments. Before joining the School of Information as an assistant professor at the University of Michigan in 2009, Dr. Krupka graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and joined IZA (a Labor Economics Research Institute) in Bonn, Germany, as a post-doc.

Though firmly grounded in economics, one of the hallmarks of her research agenda is the synthesis of theory and findings stemming from multiple disciplines within the social sciences. She explores how social norms and collective values emerge, the forces determining their content, their transmission and maintenance. Their study generates tremendous practical value for a range of questions from how to design social media applications that encourage desirable norms to emerge endogenously; how to harness norms in organizational settings as possible solutions to principle-agent problems; how to transition from undesirable to desirable norms of conduct and how to sustain desirable norms once they are in place.

To do so she bridges disciplines (notably, economics and psychology) and generates new methods for studying social norms and collective values.  Her research on social norms suggests why individuals might engage in behaviors that appear inconsistent with self-interest and suggests why trivial modifications to a decision context can change behavior significantly. The work contributes to the emerging literature that models the sway of non-wealth factors on choice, by using social norms to raise the “psychological cost” of selfishness. It also has broader impacts that stem from its application to unpacking the social determinants of online media designers’ and end-users’ privacy decisions, establishing and fostering ethical norms and behavior in the workplace, to the implications for mechanism design of using voluntary monitoring or social feedback, and working with industry partners to increase ‘green’ behavior among consumers.

This work is directly relevant to the incentive-centered design of information systems, an approach pioneered by faculty at the School of Information.  It has appeared in journals that speak to multiple audiences; most notably to audiences in economics, business and management as well as in computer science and information schools. She has received funding from the NSF, the Donoghue Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as well as numerous grants from the University of Michigan.  She is also the recipient of the School of Information’s Teaching Award and was nominated for University of Michigan’s Gold Apple Teaching Award.

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