Networks, Hierarchies, and Markets: Aggregating Collective Problem Solving in Social Systems
AbstractHow do decentralized systems collectively solve problems? Here we explore the interplay among three canonical forms of collective organizationâ€”markets, networks, and hierarchiesâ€”in aggregating decentralized problem solving. We examine these constructs in the context of how the offices of members of Congress individually and collectively wrestle with the Internet, and, in particular, their use of official websites. Each office is simultaneously making decisions about how to utilize their website. These decisions are only partially independent, where offices are looking at each other for lessons, following the same directives from above about what to do with the websites, and confront the same array of potential vendors to produce their website. Here we present the initial results from interviews with 99 Congressional offices and related survey of 100 offices about their decisions regarding how to use official Member websites. Strikingly, we find that there are relatively few efforts by offices to evaluate what constituents want or like on their websites. Further, we find that diffusion occurs at the â€œtip of the icebergâ€: offices often look at each othersâ€™ websites (which are publicly visible), but rarely talk to each other about their experiences or how they manage what is on their websites (which are not publicly visible). We also find that there are important market drivers of what is on websites, with the emergence of a small industry of companies seeking to serve the 440 Members. Hierarchical influencesâ€”through the House and through the party conferencesâ€”also constrain and subsidize certain practices.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Harvard Kennedy School of Government in its series Scholarly Articles with number 4481607.
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series
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- 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.
- Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
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