Management fads, pedagogies, and other soft technologies
We present a model for the diffusion of management fads and other technologies which lack clear objective evidence about their merits. The choices made by non-Bayesian adopters reflect both their own evaluations and the social influence of their peers. We show, both analytically and computationally, that the dynamics lead to outcomes that appear to be deterministic in spite of being governed by a stochastic process. In other words, when the objective evidence about a technology is weak, the evolution of this process quickly settles down to a fraction of adopters that is not predetermined. When the objective evidence is strong, the proportion of adopters is determined by the quality of the evidence and the adopters' competence.
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