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Breadth Verses Depth: The Impact of Tree Structure on Cultural Influence

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Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNISA,volume 12268)

Abstract

Cultural spread in social networks and organisations is an important and longstanding issue. In this paper we assess this role of tree structures in facilitating cultural diversity. Cultural features are represented using abstract traits that are held by individual agents, which may transfer when neighbouring agents interact through the network structure. We use an agent-based model that incorporates both the combined social pressure and influence from an agent’s neighbours. We perform a multivariate study where the number of features and traits representing culture are varied, alongside the breadth and depth of the tree. The results reveal interesting findings on cultural diversity. Increasing the number of features promotes strong convergence in flatter trees as compared to narrower and deeper trees. At the same time increasing features causes narrower deeper trees to show greater cultural pluralism while flatter trees instead show greater cultural homogenisation. We also find that in contrast to previous work, the polarisation between nodes does not rise steadily as the number of traits increase but under certain conditions may also fall. The results have implications for organisational structures - in particular for hierarchies where depth supports cultural divergence, while breadth promotes greater homogeneity, but with increased coordination overhead on the root nodes. These observations also support subsidiarity in deep organisational structures - it is not just a case of communication length promoting subsidiarity, but local cultural differences are more likely to be sustained within these structures.

Keywords

  • Agent-based modelling
  • Organizational structure
  • Cultural diversity

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Acknowledgement

This research was sponsored by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.K. Ministry of Defence under Agreement Number W911NF-16-3-0001. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the U.S. Government, the U.K. Ministry of Defence or the U.K. Government. The U.S. and U.K. Governments are authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Government purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation hereon.

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Correspondence to Rhodri L. Morris .

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Morris, R.L., Turner, L.D., Whitaker, R.M., Giammanco, C. (2020). Breadth Verses Depth: The Impact of Tree Structure on Cultural Influence. In: Thomson, R., Bisgin, H., Dancy, C., Hyder, A., Hussain, M. (eds) Social, Cultural, and Behavioral Modeling. SBP-BRiMS 2020. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 12268. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61255-9_9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61255-9_9

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