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The Social Selection of Flexible and Rigid Agents

Joseph E. Harrington, Jr.
The American Economic Review
Vol. 88, No. 1 (Mar., 1998), pp. 63-82
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/116818
Page Count: 20
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The Social Selection of Flexible and Rigid Agents
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Abstract

People differ in how they respond to their environment. Some individuals treat each situation as unique and tailor their behavior accordingly while others respond in the same manner regardless of the situation. My objective is to explore how social systems select from such a heterogeneous population. A class of simple hierarchical systems is considered which encompasses some features of corporations and electoral systems. A selection process operates on this population which results in successful agents going on to compete against equally successful agents for further advancement. I characterize the population dynamics and the type of agent that ultimately dominates.

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