The Parable of the Hare and the Tortoise: Small Worlds, Diversity, and System Performance

25 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2005  

David Lazer

Northeastern University - Department of Political Science; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Allan Friedman

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: 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.

Keywords: Advocacy and Persuasion, Information Technology, Public Management, Science¬ł Technology and Public Policy

Suggested Citation

Lazer, David and Friedman, Allan, The Parable of the Hare and the Tortoise: Small Worlds, Diversity, and System Performance (October 2005). KSG Working Paper No. RWP05-058. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=832627 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.832627

David Lazer (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Boston, MA 02115
United States
617-373-2796 (Phone)
617-373-5311 (Fax)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Taubman Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-0102 (Phone)
617-496-1722 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.davidlazer.com

Allan Friedman

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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