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Management fads, pedagogies, and other soft technologies

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  • Bendor, Jonathan
  • Huberman, Bernardo A.
  • Wu, Fang

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Bendor, Jonathan & Huberman, Bernardo A. & Wu, Fang, 2009. "Management fads, pedagogies, and other soft technologies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 290-304, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:72:y:2009:i:1:p:290-304
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Dorothea Kübler & Georg Weizsäcker, 2004. "Limited Depth of Reasoning and Failure of Cascade Formation in the Laboratory," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 425-441.
    3. Welch, Ivo, 1992. " Sequential Sales, Learning, and Cascades," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(2), pages 695-732, June.
    4. Colin Camerer, 1998. "Bounded Rationality in Individual Decision Making," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(2), pages 163-183, September.
    5. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
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