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Faculty Research Working Paper Series
David Lazer
Associate Professor of Public Policy
The Parable of the Hare and the Tortoise: Small Worlds, Diversity, and System Performance.
Lazer, David, and Allan Friedman. "The Parable of the Hare and the Tortoise: Small Worlds, Diversity, and System Performance." KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP05-058, October 2005.
Abstract
Whether as team members brainstorming, or cultures experimenting with new technologies, problem solvers communicate and share ideas. This paper examines how the structure of these communication networks can affect system-level performance. We present an agent-based model of information sharing, where the less successful emulate the more successful. Results suggest that where agents are dealing with a complex problem, the more efficient the network at disseminating information, and the higher the velocity of information over that network, the better the short run and lower the long run performance of the system. The dynamic underlying this result is that an inefficient network is better at exploration than an efficient network, supporting a more thorough search for solutions in the long run. This suggests that the efficient network is the hare—the fast starter—and the poorly connected network is the tortoise—slow at the start of the race, but ultimately triumphant.
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