Influential Opinion Leaders

Authors


  • We thank David Austen-Smith, Martin Cripps, Mehmet Ekmekci, Yosh Halberstam, Stephen Morris, David Myatt, Alessandro Pavan, Carolyn Pitchik, Matt Turner, and several anonymous referees for helpful comments. Regina Tukhbatullina provided excellent research assistance. Loeper acknowledges the financial support from grant ECO2010-19596 from the Spanish ‘Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación’. Steiner was supported by Purkyne fellowship of the Czech Academy of Sciences and by GACR grant 13-34759S. Stewart is grateful to SSHRC for financial support of this research.

Abstract

We present a two-stage coordination game in which early choices of experts with special interests are observed by followers who move in the second stage. We show that the equilibrium outcome is biased towards the experts' interests even though followers know the distribution of expert interests. Expert influence is fully decentralised in the sense that each individual expert has a negligible impact. The bias in favour of experts results from a social learning effect that is multiplied through a coordination motive. We apply our results to the onset of social movements and to the diffusion of products with network externalities.

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