Mechanisms that enable declining networks to avert structural collapse and performance degradation are not well understood. This knowledge gap reflects a shortage of data on declining networks and an emphasis on models of network growth. Analyzing >700,000 transactions between firms in the New York garment industry over 19 years, we tracked this network's decline and measured how its topology and global performance evolved. We find that favoring asymmetric (disassortative) links is key to preserving the topology and functionality of the declining network. Based on our findings, we tested a model of network decline that combines an asymmetric disassembly process for contraction with a preferential attachment process for regrowth. Our simulation results indicate that the model can explain robustness under decline even if the total population of nodes contracts by more than an order of magnitude, in line with our observations for the empirical network. These findings suggest that disassembly mechanisms are not simply assembly mechanisms in reverse and that our model is relevant to understanding the process of decline and collapse in a broad range of biological, technological, and financial networks.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Oct 28 2008|
- Complex networks
- Socioeconomic systems
ASJC Scopus subject areas