Research

Curriculum Vitae

A full CV can be downloaded here.

Selected papers

Magnus Thor Torfason, Francis J. Flynn, and Daniella Kupor. 2012. “Here Is a Tip: Prosocial Gratuities Are Linked to Corruption.” Social Psychological and Personality Science. Forthcoming.

Abstract: We investigated the link between tipping, an altruistic act, and bribery, an immoral act. We found a positive relationship between these two seemingly unrelated behaviors, using archival cross-national data for 32 countries, and controlling for per capita gross domestic product, income inequality, and other factors. Countries that had higher rates of tipping behavior tended to have higher rates of corruption. We suggest that this surprising association may be accounted for by temporal focus—people may tip and bribe others in order to receive special services in the future. Indeed, in a pair of follow-up survey studies, we find evidence that the link between tipping and bribery can be partly accounted for by prospective orientation.

Glenn R. Carroll and Magnus Thor Torfason. 2011. “Restaurant Organizational Forms and Community in the U.S. in 2005.” City & Community 10(1): 1-25. Download here.

Abstract: Recent sociological theory and research highlights food, drink and restaurants as culturally meaningful and related to social identity. An implication of this view holds that the prevalence of corporate chain restaurants affects the sociological character of communities, as many activists, popular-based movements and theorists contend. The analysis we report here seeks to identify the ecological niche properties of chain and independent restaurants—-which kinds of communities support restaurant chains, and which kinds of communities tend to support independent local restaurants and food service providers instead. We analyze data from a 2005 sample of 49 counties across the US with over 17,000 active restaurants. We argue that demographic stability affects the community composition of organizational forms, and we also investigate arguments about a community’s income distribution, age distribution, population trends, geographic sprawl, and commuter population. We find that communities with less stable demographic make-ups support more chain restaurants, but that other factors, including suburban sprawl and public transit commuter, also have some impact.

Paul Ingram and Magnus Thor Torfason. 2010. “Organizing the In-between: The Population Dynamics of Network-weaving Organizations in the Global Interstate Network.” Administrative Science Quarterly 55(4): 577-605. Download here.

Abstract:This article examines the population dynamics and viability of network weavers, which are organizations that provide network relations for others. An analysis of the population dynamics of the intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) that are the basis of the interstate networks that influenced global economic relations, peace, and democracy in the 1815–2000 period shows that IGO founding and failure depends on the ease and value of specific interstate relations. Results indicate that network-weaving organizations are easier to operate when they encompass proximate and similar actors, yet they also reap rewards for bringing together otherwise disconnected actors, in particular, actors with conflicts. Combined, these organizational processes can account for the high clustering and short-path distance between nodes that are characteristic of the endemic small-world network structure. Furthermore, the study shows that the concepts of legitimacy and competition can be applied to identify particular spaces in the network of bilateral relations that are more or less hospitable for IGOs.

Magnus Thor Torfason and Paul Ingram. 2010. “The Global Rise of Democracy: A Network Account.” American Sociological Review 75(3): 355-77. Download paper here (and online supplement here).

Abstract: We examine the influence of an interstate network created by intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) on the global diffusion of democracy. We propose that IGOs facilitate this diffusion by transmitting information between their member states and by interpreting that information according to prevailing norms in the world society, where democracy is viewed as the legitimate form of government. We employ a network autocorrelation model to track changes in democracy among all of the world’s countries from 1815 to 2000. We find that democracy does diffuse through the IGO network and that the influence of democratic countries is stronger than that of undemocratic ones. The evidence indicates that the IGO network serves as a basis for normative diffusion and is an important contribution to sociological accounts of globalization that have tended to emphasize diffusion divorced from network structure or diffusion dependent on the coercive influence of a small set of international organizations.

Please contact mtorfason@hbs.edu for copies of papers that are not available for download.

55(4): 577-605