IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ecl/harjfk/rwp09-017.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Networks, Hierarchies, and Markets: Aggregating Collective Problem Solving in Social Systems

Author

Listed:
  • Lazer, David

    (Harvard University)

  • Mergel, Ines

    (Syracuse University)

  • Ziniel, Curt

    (University of California, Riverside)

  • Esterling, Kevin

    (University of California, Riverside)

  • Neblo, Michael

    (Ohio State University)

Abstract

How do decentralized systems collectively solve problems? Here we explore the interplay among three canonical forms of collective organization--markets, networks, and hierarchies--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 "tip of the iceberg": offices often look at each others' 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 influences--through the House and through the party conferences--also constrain and subsidize certain practices.

Suggested Citation

  • Lazer, David & Mergel, Ines & Ziniel, Curt & Esterling, Kevin & Neblo, Michael, 2009. "Networks, Hierarchies, and Markets: Aggregating Collective Problem Solving in Social Systems," Working Paper Series rwp09-017, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp09-017
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://research.hks.harvard.edu/publications/workingpapers/citation.aspx?PubId=6694&type=WPN
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp09-017. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/ksharus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.