Matching and network effects
The matching of individuals in teams is a key element in the functioning of an economy. The network of social ties can potentially transmit important information on abilities and reputations and also help mitigate matching frictions by facilitating interactions among ¿screened¿ individuals. We conjecture that the probability of i and j forming a team is falling in the distance between i and j in the network of existing social ties. The objective of this paper is to empirically test this conjecture. We examine the formation of coauthor relations among economists over a twenty year period. Our principal finding is that a new collaboration emerges faster among two researchers if they are ¿closer" in the existing coauthor network among economists. This proximity effect on collaboration is strong: being at a network distance of 2 instead of 3, for instance, raises the probability of initiating a collaboration by 27 percent. Research collaboration takes place in an environment where fairly detailed information concerning individual ability and productivity -reflected in publications, employment history, etc.- is publicly available. Our finding that social networks are powerful even in this setting suggests that they must affect matching processes more generally.
|Date of creation:||Jan 2009|
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