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Networks Working Group: Nikolas Tsakas and Anja Prummer

When Jul 23, 2014
from 01:00 PM to 02:00 PM
Where Keynes Room
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Speaker: Nikolas Tsakas

Title: Diffusion by Imitation: The Importance of Targeting Agents

Abstract: We study the optimal targeting strategy of a planner who seeks to maximize the diffusion of an action in a circular 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.

Speaker: Anja Prummer

Title: Institutions and the Preservation of Cultural Traits (joint with Jan-Peter Siedlarek)

Abstract: We offer a novel explanation for why some immigrant groups and minorities have persistent, distinctive cultural traits- the presence of a rigid institution. Such an institution is necessary for communities to not fully assimilate to the mainstream society. We distinguish between different types of institutions, such as churches, foreign-language media or ethnic business associations and ask what level of cultural distinction these institutions prefer. Any type of institution can have incentives to be extreme - choosing maximal cultural distinction from the mainstream society. An increase in discrimination can lead institutions to be more or less culturally distinct, reducing or increasing assimilation.