Coordinated Cooperation: The Effect of Network Structure on Coordination with Costly Actions

Daniel Enemark, University of California - San Diego
Mathew McCubbins, University of Southern California
Nicholas Weller, University of Southern California

Paper for the 2011 PolNet Conference


Coordination and cooperation are endemic to social settings. Two factors that affect the ability of groups to resolve these social dilemmas are the information actors have about other’s actions and the costs of taking an action. We utilize a network approach to model the structure of communication between actors and test experimentally how the communication structure affects coordination when actions are costly. We find that the addition of costs causes a significant increase in the amount of time it takes for coordination to occur and that costs cause players to change the strategy they use to resolve the coordination dilemma. Furthermore, the effect of increased costs is not constant across the various network structures. It appears that both more edges (communication) and higher degree variance (leadership) can attenuate the effect of costs to take an action. These results suggest that when designing or studying institutions we will want to account for the communication structures created by the institutions and how this structure may affect coordination and cooperation.