Giant Cluster Emergence and Functionality in Social Systems

40 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2013 Last revised: 5 Oct 2016

See all articles by Sungyong Chang

Sungyong Chang

London Business School; Columbia University - Columbia Business School, Management

Jeho Lee

Seoul National University

Jaeyong Song

Seoul National University - College of Business Administration

Date Written: September 20, 2016

Abstract

The emergence of a giant cluster, in which bits and pieces of otherwise unconnected parts of a system come together, has been extensively studied in nonsocial contexts. This phenomenon has attracted substantial attention because it allows researchers to understand and predict the collective behavior of a system. In this paper, we formalize the emergence and functionality of a giant cluster within a social system. It has been well established that giant clusters can easily emerge in systems with few triads and abundant bridges. However, studies have shown that social networks are characterized by abundant triads and a limited number of bridges. This finding implies that people are more likely to interact with others and form ties within a common shared context. The finding also suggests that it is costly for people to cross the boundaries of their own social circle and to build bridges connecting to the outside world. A question is whether a giant cluster can also emerge even under these seemingly unfavorable conditions. In our paper, we develop simple models to address this question. Our models reveal that even if bridges constitute only a tiny fraction of the ties in a system, a giant cluster can emerge. Furthermore, we find that giant clusters in systems with a limited number of bridges are more conducive to innovation than giant clusters with abundant bridges, which tend to stifle knowledge creation.

Keywords: Network, Evolution, Innovation, Knowledge

JEL Classification: O32, M12, M54

Suggested Citation

Chang, Sungyong and Lee, Jeho and Song, Jaeyong, Giant Cluster Emergence and Functionality in Social Systems (September 20, 2016). Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 13-89, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2348529 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2348529

Sungyong Chang (Contact Author)

London Business School ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, London NW1 4SA
United Kingdom

Columbia University - Columbia Business School, Management ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Jeho Lee

Seoul National University ( email )

Kwanak-gu
Seoul, 151-742
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)
82-2-880-2650 (Phone)
82-2-878-3154 (Fax)

Jaeyong Song

Seoul National University - College of Business Administration ( email )

Seoul, 151-742
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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