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In search of stars: Network formation among heterogeneous agents


  • Goeree, Jacob K.
  • Riedl, Arno
  • Ule, Aljaz


This paper reports results from a laboratory experiment on network formation among heterogeneous agents. The experimental design extends the Bala-Goyal [Bala, V., Goyal, S., 2000. A non-cooperative model of network formation, Econometrica 68, 1131-1230] model of network formation with decay and two-way flow of benefits by introducing agents with lower linking costs or higher benefits to others. Furthermore, agents' types may be common knowledge or private information. In all treatments, the (efficient) equilibrium network has a "star" structure. While equilibrium predictions fail completely with homogeneous agents, star networks frequently occur with heterogeneous agents. Stars are not born but rather develop: with a high-value agent, the network's centrality, stability, and efficiency all increase over time. A structural econometric model based on best response dynamics and other-regarding preferences is used to analyze individual linking behavior. Maximum-likelihood estimates of the underlying structural parameters, obtained by pooling data from several treatments, allow us to explain the main treatment effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Goeree, Jacob K. & Riedl, Arno & Ule, Aljaz, 2009. "In search of stars: Network formation among heterogeneous agents," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 445-466, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:67:y:2009:i:2:p:445-466

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    2. Galeotti, Andrea & Goyal, Sanjeev & Kamphorst, Jurjen, 2006. "Network formation with heterogeneous players," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 353-372, February.
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    4. Falk Armin & Kosfeld Michael, 2012. "It's all about Connections: Evidence on Network Formation," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 11(3), pages 1-36, September.
    5. Robert P. Gilles & Cathleen Johnson, 2000. "original papers : Spatial social networks," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 5(3), pages 273-299.
    6. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061414, January.
    7. Kosfeld Michael, 2004. "Economic Networks in the Laboratory: A Survey," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-23, March.
    8. Corbae, Dean & Duffy, John, 2008. "Experiments with network formation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 81-120, September.
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    10. Jackson, Matthew O. & Wolinsky, Asher, 1996. "A Strategic Model of Social and Economic Networks," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 44-74, October.
    11. Haller, Hans & Sarangi, Sudipta, 2005. "Nash networks with heterogeneous links," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 181-201, September.
    12. McBride, Michael, 2008. "Position-specific information in social networks: Are you connected?," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 283-295, September.
    13. Sanjeev Goyal & Marco J. van der Leij & José Luis Moraga-Gonzalez, 2006. "Economics: An Emerging Small World," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 403-432, April.
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    17. Venkatesh Bala & Sanjeev Goyal, 2000. "A Noncooperative Model of Network Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1181-1230, September.
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    More about this item


    Network formation Experiment Heterogeneity Private information;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation


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