From Pathogens to Products: Linking Network Structure and Diffusion


Wednesdays@NICO Seminar, Noon, January 20 2010, Chambers Hall, Lower Level

Dr. PJ Lamberson, System Dynamics Group MIT Sloan School of Management


In this talk I examine how social network structure shapes the spread of diseases, ideas, or products. I highlight two key conclusions. First, network structure matters. Using a common characterization of risk — stochastic dominance — we can order networks according to their proclivity to encourage and sustain diffusion. Second, the mechanism of diffusion matters. Specifically, I show that the relationship between network structure and diffusion in a simple contact model of disease spread is different than it in a model with boundedly rational decision makers. Thus, networks that foster the spread of pathogens may hinder diffusion in an economic market.   


I am a Senior Lecturer in the Management and Organizations Department at the Kellogg School of Management and a Senior Research Associate at the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO). My research and teaching focus on social dynamics and networks. You can read more about my research and other news and research on social dynamics on my blog,