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Seed Selection Strategies for Information Diffusion in Social Networks: An Agent-Based Model Applied to Rural Zambia

Beatrice Nöldeke (), Etti Winter () and Ulrike Grote ()

Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 2020, vol. 23, issue 4, 9

Abstract: The successful adoption of innovations depends on the provision of adequate information to farmers. In rural areas of developing countries, farmers usually rely on their social networks as an information source. Hence, policy-makers and program-implementers can benefit from social diffusion processes to effectively disseminate information. This study aims to identify the set of farmers who initially obtain information (‘seeds’) that optimises diffusion through the network. It systematically evaluates different criteria for seed selection, number of seeds, and their interaction effects. An empirical Agent-Based Model adjusted to a case study in rural Zambia was applied to predict diffusion outcomes for varying seed sets ex ante. Simulations revealed that informing farmers with the most connections leads to highest diffusion speed and reach. Also targeting village heads and farmers with high betweenness centrality, who function as bridges connecting different parts of the network, enhances diffusion. An increased number of seeds improves reach, but the marginal effects of additional seeds decline. Interdependencies between seed set size and selection criteria highlight the importance of considering both seed selection criteria and seed set size for optimising seeding strategies to enhance information diffusion.

Keywords: Information Diffusion; Social Networks; Agent-Based Modelling; Seeding; Zambia (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-10-31
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