Good Edge, Bad Edge: Connectivity, Constraint and Coordination in Networks

Mathew McCubbins, Provost Professor of Business, Law and Political Economy at the University of Southern California

Tue, 03/09/2010
12:00 PM, Bowl 1, Robertson Hall

Please join us for a discussion with Mathew McCubbins, Provost Professor of Business, Law and Political Economy at the University of Southern California, entitled "Good Edge, Bad Edge: Connectivity, Constraint and Coordination in Networks."

Professor McCubbins writes:

Coordination is a core problem in social situations. Tasks as diverse as trying to decide where to go to dinner, what political candidate to support or which regulatory policy to adopt all require coordination. Information is often the key to solving coordination problems, and this information can be modeled as a network that connects individuals to each other. In this paper we show that these connections can both improve and impede a group's ability to achieve coordination. To model how networks influence coordination we distinguish between "constraining edges"that make coordination harder by reducing the number of solutions, and "redundant edges" that make coordination easier by increasing communication without affecting the number of solutions. We show experimentally that the addition of constraining edges reduces coordination, while redundant edges improve subjects' ability to solve a coordination problem.

Mathew D. McCubbins (B.A. UC Irvine 1978, M.S. 1980, Ph.D. 1983, California Institute of Technology) is Provost Professor of Business, Law and Political Economy at the University of Southern California. He is an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UC San Diego and is also a visiting associate in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences at the California Institute of Technology. He has also served on the faculty at UC San Diego, the University of Texas, Stanford University, Washington University in St. Louis, and at the Law School at the University of San Diego. He is the co-author of six books, The Logic of Delegation (University of Chicago Press 1991), winner of the APSA 1992 Gladys M. Kammerer Award; Legislative Leviathan (University of California Press 1993), winner of the APSA Legislative Studies Section's 1994 Richard F. Fenno Jr. Prize; The Democratic Dilemma: Can Citizens Learn What They Need to Know? (Cambridge University Press, 1998); Stealing the Initiative (Prentice-Hall 2000); Setting the Agenda: Responsible Party Government in the US House of Representatives (Cambridge University Press, 2005), winner of the APSA 2006 Leon Epstein Award; and, Legislative Leviathan, Second Edition (Cambridge University Press, 2006). He is also editor or coeditor of eight additional books and has authored or coauthored more than ninety scientific articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries, in political science, economics, neuroscience, and biology, with one winning the Congressional Quarterly Prize for best article on legislative politics and another winning the SPPQ Award for best article on state politics. He has also authored more than two dozen articles in law reviews or law journals. He has published under the nom de plume of McNollgast with his coauthors Roger Noll and Barry Weingast. Professor McCubbins is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. McCubbins was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Science in 1994-95. He served as a co-editor of the Journal of Law, Economics & Organization for eight years (Oxford University Press). He is presently co-President of the board of directors for the Society on Empirical Legal Studies and is a co-editor of the Journal of Legal Analysis, and is a co-network director for the Political Science Network (PSN) within the Social Science Research Network (