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Giant cluster formation and integrating role of bridges in social diffusion


Strategic Management Journal


Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Authors / Editors

S Chang


Publication Year



In social networks, isolated subgroups often aggregate into a massively connected subgroup, or a giant cluster, when bridges are built across subgroups. To understand the roles of bridges in integrating subgroups, we develop models focusing on the percentage of bridges among all ties. When it is below 1%, diffusion does not affect many individuals because the system is merely a collection of fragmented subgroups. Near 1%, however, we find that a slight increase in the percentage of bridges leads to sudden widespread diffusion across many subgroups. This dramatic change stems from a threshold-like structural characteristic of the network whereby previously fragmented subgroups come together abruptly. Our findings suggest that this integrating role of bridges is an important piece missing from the literature on small-world networks.

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