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Fat-Tailed Fluctuations in the Size of Organizations: The Role of Social Influence
Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics. Institute for Futures Studies, Stockholm, Sweden and Department of Energy Science, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, Korea. (IceLab)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2156-1096
Institute for Futures Studies, Stockholm, Sweden and Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
2014 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 9, no 7, e100527- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Organizational growth processes have consistently been shown to exhibit a fatter-than-Gaussian growth-rate distribution in a variety of settings. Long periods of relatively small changes are interrupted by sudden changes in all size scales. This kind of extreme events can have important consequences for the development of biological and socio-economic systems. Existing models do not derive this aggregated pattern from agent actions at the micro level. We develop an agent-based simulation model on a social network. We take our departure in a model by a Schwarzkopf et al. on a scale-free network. We reproduce the fat-tailed pattern out of internal dynamics alone, and also find that it is robust with respect to network topology. Thus, the social network and the local interactions are a prerequisite for generating the pattern, but not the network topology itself. We further extend the model with a parameter  that weights the relative fraction of an individual's neighbours belonging to a given organization, representing a contextual aspect of social influence. In the lower limit of this parameter, the fraction is irrelevant and choice of organization is random. In the upper limit of the parameter, the largest fraction quickly dominates, leading to a winner-takes-all situation. We recover the real pattern as an intermediate case between these two extremes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
PLOS ONE , 2014. Vol. 9, no 7, e100527- p.
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Condensed Matter Physics
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-92059DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100527OAI: diva2:739389
Swedish Research Council, 2012-3651
Available from: 2014-08-21 Created: 2014-08-21 Last updated: 2014-09-17Bibliographically approved

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