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Supple Networks: Preferential Attachment by Diversity in Nascent Social Graphs

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Abstract: A preference for diversity has been identified as an important predictor of tie formation in certain networks, both social and organizational, that also exhibit a high degree of suppleness – the ability to retain their general form and character under stress (Durkheim, 1893 1997; Powell et al., 1996; Powell et al., 2005; Koput & Gutek, 2010). Extant models of preferential attachment, based on popularity, similarity, and cohesion, meanwhile, produce exceedingly brittle networks (Albert et al., 2000; Callaway et al., 2000; Holme et al., 2002; Shore et al., 2013). A model of preferential attachment based on diversity is introduced and simulated, demonstrating that a preference for diversity can create a structure characterized by suppleness. This occurs because a preference for diversity promotes overlapping and redundant weak ties during the early stages of network formation.

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