Solidarity and Competition: Simulating Social Support between Competing Collaboration Partners

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 10:50
Oral Presentation
Federico BIANCHI, University of Brescia, Italy
Andreas FLACHE, University of Groningen / ICS, Netherlands
Flaminio SQUAZZONI, University of Brescia, Italy
This study aims to understand the consequences of competition between collaborating

partners on the emergence of solidarity between them. Previous research has suggested that peers engaging in economic exchanges, e.g. professional collaboration, can develop expectations of social support if trust arises between them, which fosters confidence in receiving support from the partner. Yet, these results might have been favoured by context-specific lack of competition. In order to study this, we developed a stochastic Agent-Based Model (ABM) which includes a multiplex network of collaboration, trust and social support. The model is an adaptation of Stochastic Actor-Oriented Models simulation algorithm. By running computer simulations, we manipulated heterogeneity in resource endowment and need for social support among agents who competed over resource-rich partners for collaboration. This allowed us to study the connectivity and integration of the emergent social support networks. Preliminary results showed that competition in collaboration can be detrimental for the connectivity of the emergent social support network if resource heterogeneity was sufficiently high. Moreover, the emergent networks were highly segregated along differences in resource levels, giving rise to a core-periphery structure in the collaboration network, in which resource-rich actors found the most attractive partners to relate to. However, once heterogeneity in need for support is added, the effect of resource heterogeneity is neutralized by a ‘double-edge’ effect of heterogeneity on social support relations. Resource-poor but needy actors established mutual help relations due to their stronger social activity in search for attractive partners, which made them less peripheral in the emergent network than without heterogeneity in neediness. Finally, resource inequality could generate networks where integration between high- and low-resource agents was similar to what was produced without competition. Our study also showcases the potential of ABMs to expand the scope of empirical network research results.