Regular Article

Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination

, 3:183

First online:

Community connectivity and heterogeneity: clues and insights on cooperation on social networks

  • Sergi LozanoAffiliated withETH Zurich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
  • , Alex ArenasAffiliated withUniversitat Rovira i VirgiliInstituto de Biocomputación y Física de Sistemas Complejos (BIFI), Universidad de Zaragoza
  • , Angel SánchezAffiliated withInstituto de Biocomputación y Física de Sistemas Complejos (BIFI), Universidad de ZaragozaGrupo Interdisciplinar de Sistemas Complejos (GISC), Departamento de Matemáticas, Universidad Carlos III de MadridInstituto de Ciencias Matemáticas CSIC-UAM-UC3M-UCM Email author 

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While studies on the emergence of cooperation on structured populations abound, only few of them have considered real social networks as the substrate on which individuals interact. As has been shown recently [Lozano et al., PLoS ONE 3(4):e1892, 2008], understanding cooperative behavior on social networks requires knowledge not only of their global (macroscopic) characteristic, but also a deep insight on their community (mesoscopic) structure. In this paper, we look at this problem from the viewpoint of the resilience of cooperation, in particular when there are directed exogenous attacks (insertion of pure defectors) at key locations in the network. We present results of agent-based simulations showing strong evidence that the resilience of social networks is crucially dependent on their community structure, ranging from no resilience to robust cooperative behavior. Our results have important implications for the understanding of how organizations work and can be used as a guide for organization design.


Cooperation Social networks Community structure Resilience Prisoner’s dilemma

JEL Classification

C72 C73 L2 M54