Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics
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Department of Economics, Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus Working Papers, Department of Economics, Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus

No 04-10:
Economic Cooperation and Social Identity: Towards a Model of Economic Cross-Cultural Integration

Karsten Bjerring Olsen

Abstract: In arguing that borders not only should be understood as economic barriers to trade, but also

as cultural barriers to interaction, this paper attempts to operationalize a broader interpretation of

borders with regards to economic cross-cultural integration. Thus, by formalizing the cultural

effects of borders as mental distances (interpreted as social identities), and by using an agentbased

simulation model, I analyze how the border affects, and is itself affected by, economic

integration. The model is based on two regions separated by a border. Based on expected payoffs

and mental distance, agents first choose whether to interact at home or to cross the border. Then,

agents choose their action in a simple PD game based on a general disposition of trust, as well as

the mental distance should the interaction partner be from across the border. The agentís mental

distance and trust level are then updated according to the agentís experience of the interaction

(positive or negative). The model generally reveals that underlying cultural processes may affect

the success of economic integration considerably, and suggests that the success of the integration

depends significantly (and in asymmetric ways) on mental distances between regions, on

economically vs. culturally motivated behavior, and on collectivistic vs. individualistic characters

of the regional cultures.

Keywords: Agent-Based Modeling; Cooperation; Culture; Social Identity; Economic Integration; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: B52; C63; F02; R19; Z10; (follow links to similar papers)

39 pages, May 27, 2004

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