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The Emergence of Local Norms in Networks

  • Mary A. Burke


    (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

  • Gary M. Fournier


    (Florida State University)

  • Kislaya Prasad


    (R. H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland)

We develop an explanation of the emergence of local norms, and theassociated phenomenon of geographical variation in behavior.Individuals are assumed to interact locally with neighbors in anenvironment with a network externality. Although many patterns ofbehavior are possible, the dispersed interactive choices of agentsare shown to select behavior that is locally uniform but globallydiverse. The range of applications of the theory includes regionalvariation in the practice of medicine, technology choice, andcorruption. The framework is also useful for further developing ourunderstanding of important phenomena like lock-in, criticalthresholds, and contagion.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Florida State University in its series Working Papers with number wp2006_02_01.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: Forthcoming in Complexity journal
Handle: RePEc:fsu:wpaper:wp2006_02_01
Note: This paper has been accepted in Complexity journal ( and is not available on-line from RePEc.
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