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A Theory of Strategic Diffusion


  • Sanjeev Goyal

    (University of Cambridge)

  • Andrea Galeotti

    (University of Essex)


The important role of friends, neighbors and colleagues in shaping individual choices has been brought out in a number of studies over the years. The presence of significant ‘local’ influence in shaping individual behavior suggests that firms, governments and developmental agencies should explicitly incorporate it in the design of their marketing and developmental strategies. This paper develops a framework for the study of optimal strategies in the presence of social interaction. We focus on the case of a single player who exerts costly effort to get a set of individuals – engaged in social interaction – to choose a certain action. Our formulation allows for different types of social interaction (ranging from sharing of information to direct adoption externalities) and also allows for the player to have incomplete information concerning the connections among individuals. The analysis starts by showing that incorporating information on social interaction can have large effects on the profits of a player. We then show that an increase in the level and dispersion of social interaction can raise or lower the optimal strategy and profits of the player, depending on the content of the interaction. We then study the value of social network information for the player and find that it depends on the dispersion in social connections. The economic interest of these results is illustrated via a discussion of two economic applications: advertising in the presence of word of mouth communication and seeding a network.

Suggested Citation

  • Sanjeev Goyal & Andrea Galeotti, 2007. "A Theory of Strategic Diffusion," Working Papers 2007.70, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2007.70

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ellison, Glenn, 1993. "Learning, Local Interaction, and Coordination," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(5), pages 1047-1071, September.
    2. Gene M. Grossman & Carl Shapiro, 1984. "Informative Advertising with Differentiated Products," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 63-81.
    3. Coralio Ballester & Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Yves Zenou, 2006. "Who's Who in Networks. Wanted: The Key Player," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1403-1417, September.
    4. Glenn Ellison & Drew Fudenberg, 1995. "Word-of-Mouth Communication and Social Learning," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 93-125.
    5. Timothy G. Conley & Christopher R. Udry, 2010. "Learning about a New Technology: Pineapple in Ghana," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 35-69, March.
    6. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1176-1209, December.
    7. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1986. "Technology Adoption in the Presence of Network Externalities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 822-841, August.
    8. Ellison, Glenn & Fudenberg, Drew, 1993. "Rules of Thumb for Social Learning," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 612-643, August.
    9. Shy,Oz, 2001. "The Economics of Network Industries," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521805001, March.
    10. Andrea Galeotti & Sanjeev Goyal & Matthew O. Jackson & Fernando Vega-Redondo & Leeat Yariv, 2010. "Network Games," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 218-244.
    11. Banerji, A. & Dutta, Bhaskar, 2009. "Local network externalities and market segmentation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 605-614, September.
    12. Reingen, Peter H, et al, 1984. " Brand Congruence in Interpersonal Relations: A Social Network Analysis," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 771-783, December.
    13. Joseph Farrell & Garth Saloner, 1985. "Installed Base and Compatibility With Implications for Product Preannouncements," Working papers 385, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    14. Arun Sundararajan, 2004. "Local Network Effects and Network Structure," Industrial Organization 0412011, EconWPA.
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    16. NAVARRO, Noemí, 2006. "Asymmetric information, word-of-mouth and social networks: from the market for lemons to efficiency," CORE Discussion Papers 2006002, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea Galeotti & Brian W. Rogers, 2013. "Strategic Immunization and Group Structure," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 1-32, May.
    2. Buechel, Berno & Hellmann, Tim & Klößner, Stefan, 2015. "Opinion dynamics and wisdom under conformity," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 240-257.
    3. Kalyan Chatterjee & Bhaskar Dutta, 2016. "Credibility And Strategic Learning In Networks," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 57, pages 759-786, August.
    4. Manuel Förster & Michel Grabisch & Agnieszka Rusinowska, 2012. "Ordered Weighted Averaging in Social Networks," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 12056, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    5. Matthew O. Jackson & Benjamin Golub, 2007. "Naïve Learning in Social Networks: Convergence, Influence and Wisdom of Crowds," Working Papers 2007.64, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    6. Mariya Teteryatnikova, 2012. "Resilience of the Interbank Network to Shocks and Optimal Bail-Out Strategy: Advantages of "Tiered" Banking Systems," Vienna Economics Papers 1203, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    7. Eymann, Torsten (Ed.), 2009. "Tagungsband zum Doctoral Consortium der WI 2009
      [WI2009 Doctoral Consortium Proceedings]
      ," Bayreuth Reports on Information Systems Management 40, University of Bayreuth, Chair of Information Systems Management.
    8. Prasanna Gai & Sujit Kapadia, 2011. "A Network Model of Super-Systemic Crises," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series,in: Rodrigo Alfaro (ed.), Financial Stability, Monetary Policy, and Central Banking, edition 1, volume 15, chapter 13, pages 411-432 Central Bank of Chile.
    9. Francis Bloch & Nicolas Quérou, 2008. "Pricing in networks," Working Papers hal-00356356, HAL.
    10. Hang-Hyun Jo & Jeoung-Yoo Kim, 2012. "Competitive Targeted Marketing," ISER Discussion Paper 0834, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    11. repec:esx:essedp:707 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Fjeldstad, Øystein & Moen, Espen R & Riis, Christian, 2010. "Competition with Local Network Externalities," CEPR Discussion Papers 7778, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Itay P. Fainmesser & David A. Goldberg, 2011. "Bilateral and Community Enforcement in a Networked Market with Simple Strategies," Working Papers 2011-2, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    14. repec:esx:essedp:716 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Social Interaction; Seeding the Network; Word of Mouth Communication; Diffusion Strategy;

    JEL classification:

    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality

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