Cascading Expert Failure

39 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2021 Last revised: 18 Jul 2022

See all articles by Jon Murphy

Jon Murphy

Nicholls State University

Date Written: May 30, 2022


Recent research has shown how experts may fail in their duty as advisors by providing advice that leads to a worse outcome than that anticipated by the user of expert opinion. However, those models have focused on the immediate effects of the failure on experts and nonexperts. Using a cascading network failure model, I show how expert failure can cascade throughout multiple sectors, even those not necessarily purchasing the expert opinion. Consequently, even relatively small failures end up having outsized aggregate effects. To provide evidence of my theory, I look at two case studies of COVID expert advice to show how one seemingly minor failure ended up contributing to the pandemic. I conclude with a discussion on institutional frameworks that can prevent such cascades.

Keywords: Market Failure, Public Policy, Experts, COVID-19, Cascades, Network Analysis

JEL Classification: D42, D47, D85, L14, L84

Suggested Citation

Murphy, Jonathan, Cascading Expert Failure (May 30, 2022). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 21-44, Available at SSRN: or

Jonathan Murphy (Contact Author)

Nicholls State University ( email )

Thibodaux, LA
United States

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