Agency, Potential and Contagion

37 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2017 Last revised: 24 Oct 2017

See all articles by Jonathan Newton

Jonathan Newton

Kyoto University - Institute of Economic Research

Damian Sercombe

Imperial College London

Date Written: April 5, 2017


The spread of a novel behavior due to individual agency, as represented by a potential function, is compared to the spread of novel behavior due to the collective agency of those with strategic complementarities. An autonomous set of players is one which might be reasonably expected to adopt the novelty irrespective of the choices of those outside the set. Two forms of autonomy are compared. These are potential autonomy and agency autonomy, which relate to the graph theoretic quantities of close-knittedness and cohesion, respectively. Necessary and sufficient conditions for potential autonomy to imply agency autonomy and vice versa are given and related to different classes of coordination game.

Keywords: agency, potential, contagion, networks

JEL Classification: C73

Suggested Citation

Newton, Jonathan and Sercombe, Damian, Agency, Potential and Contagion (April 5, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Jonathan Newton (Contact Author)

Kyoto University - Institute of Economic Research ( email )

Kyoto 606-8501

Damian Sercombe

Imperial College London ( email )

South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London, Greater London SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

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