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The Parable of the Hare and the Tortoise: Small Worlds, Diversity, and System Performance

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  • Lazer, David

    (Harvard U)

  • Friedman, Allan
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    Abstract

    Whether as team members brainstorming, or cultures experimenting with new technologies, problem solvers communicate and share ideas. This paper examines how the structure of these communication networks can affect system-level performance. We present an agent-based model of information sharing, where the less successful emulate the more successful. Results suggest that where agents are dealing with a complex problem, the more efficient the network at disseminating information, and the higher the velocity of information over that network, the better the short run and lower the long run performance of the system. The dynamic underlying this result is that an inefficient network is better at exploration than an efficient network, supporting a more thorough search for solutions in the long run. This suggests that the efficient network is the hare—the fast starter—and the poorly connected network is the tortoise—slow at the start of the race, but ultimately triumphant.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp05-058.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2005
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    Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp05-058

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    1. Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 2010. "A theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom and cultural change as informational Cascades," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1193, David K. Levine.
    2. Jan W. Rivkin, 2000. "Imitation of Complex Strategies," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(6), pages 824-844, June.
    3. Jonathon N. Cummings, 2004. "Work Groups, Structural Diversity, and Knowledge Sharing in a Global Organization," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(3), pages 352-364, March.
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