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Diffusion by Imitation: The Importance of Targeting Agents

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  • Nikolas Tsakas

Abstract

We study the optimal targeting strategy of a planner who seeks to maximize the diffusion of an action in a network where agents imitate successful past behavior of their neighbors. We find that the optimal targeting strategy depends on two parameters: (i) the likelihood of the action being more successful than its alternative and (ii) the planner's patience. More specifically, when the planner's preferred action has higher probability of being more successful than its alternative, then the optimal strategy for an infinitely patient planner is to concentrate all the targeted agents in one connected group; whereas when this probability is lower it is optimal to spread them uniformly around the network. Interestingly, for a very impatient planner, the optimal targeting strategy is exactly the opposite. Our results highlight the importance of knowing a society's exact network structure for the efficient design of targeting strategies, especially in settings where the agents are positionally similar.

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  • Nikolas Tsakas, 2013. "Diffusion by Imitation: The Importance of Targeting Agents," 2013 Papers pts99, Job Market Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:jmp:jm2013:pts99
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    Cited by:

    1. Rusinowska, Agnieszka & Taalaibekova, Akylai, 2019. "Opinion formation and targeting when persuaders have extreme and centrist opinions," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 9-27.
    2. Michel Grabisch & Antoine Mandel & Agnieszka Rusinowska & Emily Tanimura, 2018. "Strategic Influence in Social Networks," Mathematics of Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 43(1), pages 29-50, February.
    3. Nikolas Tsakas, 2014. "Optimal influence under observational learning," Gecomplexity Discussion Paper Series 4, Action IS1104 "The EU in the new complex geography of economic systems: models, tools and policy evaluation", revised Nov 2014.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • M37 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Advertising

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