Book Review: Mihnea C. Moldoveanu and Joel A. C. Baum: Epinets: The Epistemic Structure and Dynamics of Social Networks

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pid_16730Mihnea C. Moldoveanu, A. C. Joel Baum: Epinets: The Epistemic Structure and Dynamics of Social Networks. Stanford, CA: Stanford Business Books, 2014. 187 pp. $44.96, hardcover.

You can read the review by Matthew S. Bothner of European School of Management and Technology and Henning Piezunka of INSEAD, available now in the OnlineFirst section of Administrative Science Quarterly.

From the review:

Epinets is a demanding and brilliant book. It demands and deserves from its audience a very close read. Its theoretical logic builds “line upon line, precept upon precept,” ASQ_v60n2_Jun2014_cover.inddand so this is not a book to be blithely perused. It also demands much of itself. Moldoveanu and Baum not only engage in an act of intellectual brokerage between epistemic game theory (and related fields) and network analysis to introduce what they refer to as epinets (networks of agents’ beliefs); they also seek—staying with Burt’s (2005) theory—to “seed and catalyze closure” (p. 162) among diverse researchers committed to the epistemic turn in social science that they propose.

Scholars from several fields should find much value in their work. These include, first and foremost, network researchers looking for fresh ideas and new methods but also organization theorists more broadly defined, as well as game theorists, strategy researchers, sociologists of knowledge and of religion, and even students of military intelligence. One of the most interesting discussions we had about Epinets took place with a German intelligence expert whose attention was riveted by the book’s core claim: that what you think others think (and what you think they think you think) matters decisively for strategic behavior. Like a shrewd spy who inserts herself in the learning loop of her country’s enemies’ spies, Moldoveanu and Baum’s ideal social actor is an embedded (though not constrained) actor who has much “level 2” knowledge—she knows what others know—and “level 3” knowledge—she can accurately predict what others think she thinks.

You can read the rest of the review from Administrative Science Quarterly by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research and reviews from Administrative Science Quarterly? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

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