Social leverage, a core mechanism of cooperation. Locality, assortment, and network evolution
Yanlong Zhang () and
Wolfram Elsner ()
Additional contact information
Yanlong Zhang: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 2020, vol. 30, issue 3, No 10, 867-889
Abstract Spontaneous emergence of institutionalized cooperation in ubiquitous social dilemmas still is a field of highest relevance in behavioral and organizational economic research. In contrast to the theoretical prediction of defective behavior, manifold forms and degrees of cooperation exist in reality. We explain the emergence of general cooperation, even in one-shot interactions with strangers, from local interactions in a network through what we call a social-leverage mechanism. By this, more agents than just the two interaction partners get involved in an interaction, particularly common acquaintances. We analyze the social-leverage mechanism and conditions of cooperation under locality, common acquaintanceship, related assortativity, as well as “weak” and “strong ties” in the social network. We trace the co-evolution of the network, its structural dynamics, and stable cooperative equilibria. Our model relates to the tradition of emergent coordination in decentralized, non-Walrasian search, coordination and exchange systems (e.g., Diamond 1984; Axtell 2005) and in purely local interactions on, e.g., ring networks (e.g., Albin and Foley J Econ Behav Organ 18(1), 27–51, 1992). We conclude that, under social leverage, just local interaction may generate and stabilize general cooperation. We consider this the emergence of an exchange and trade system (a market) and relate this to empirical cases of the emergence of exchange cultures in the early Silk Road (seventh–ninth century) and in contemporary African countries, when formal enforcement through states and courts are largely lacking. We conclude applications and policy implications for cutting-edge techno-organizational areas of AI and platform economies.
Keywords: Cooperation; Evolution; Games; Local interaction; Network formation; Assortativity; Social-leverage contracting; Spontaneous markets; C72; C73; D02; D85 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s00191-019-00642-x Abstract (text/html)
Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:spr:joevec:v:30:y:2020:i:3:d:10.1007_s00191-019-00642-x
Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from
Access Statistics for this article
Journal of Evolutionary Economics is currently edited by Uwe Cantner, Elias Dinopoulos, Horst Hanusch and Luigi Orsenigo
More articles in Journal of Evolutionary Economics from Springer
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Sonal Shukla () and Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing ().