Banner for PDRI-DevLab Spring 2024 Seminar Series: Aparjita Agarwal


PDRI-DevLab Spring 2024 Seminar Series: Aparjita Agarwal

PDRI-DevLab is hosting a Spring 2024 Seminar Series featuring its staff and affiliates.

Topic: Intermediating for social impact: Strategic trade-offs for digital platforms and local agents

Presenter: Aparjita Agarwal

Sessions Details: This study examines how local agents – intermediaries that connect organizations such as digital platforms to customers in emerging markets – respond to increased value appropriation by the organization and the heterogeneity in their responses to different customer segments. Utilizing a difference in differences design with a proprietary dataset of over 400,000 transactions between agents and customers from a digital platform in rural India that provides essential financial products and services to rural customers, and supplemented by qualitative interviews, the research examines how agents, pivotal in bridging infrastructure and capability gaps in emerging markets, react to changes in formal governance by the organization. The findings reveal that agents’ responses are constrained by their social ties and community relationships, such that post the policy change, agents transact even less with customers from their social group, with low-income customers and that their negative responses are attenuated in socially heterogeneous communities. The findings reveal heterogeneity in agent responses, and have implications for the customer segments reached, the organization’s value appropriation strategy and its social mission. The study contributes to the literature on intermediation in the base of pyramid markets, highlighting the strategic importance of understanding agent behaviors and the social fabric.

This session will be a seminar and participants are not required to read a paper beforehand.

For more information, reach out to


Aparjita Agarwal

Aparajita is a fifth-year doctoral student in management at the Wharton School. Her research interests lie at the intersection of digital business models, ecosystems, and institutions, with a particular focus on emerging markets. In her work, Aparajita studies how businesses address the unique institutional challenges of emerging markets, the choices that organizations make to scale in these contexts, and their role in driving social and economic development in these settings.