Parisian focal points

The self-described “errant economist” Thomas Schelling once illustrated his idea of a “focal point” with the following coordination game: Tomorrow you have to meet some friends in New York City, but you have no way of communicating with them. Where and when would you meet your friends? In a coordination game, all the players are capable of winning (i.e. obtaining the highest payoff) only if they choose the same strategy. The problem with the NYC example is that any place and time in the City could work as an equilibrium solution. Yet, when Schelling presented his game scenario to a group of his students, he found the most common answer was noon at Grand Central Terminal. But what if we were to change the city in this Schelling game to Paris, where there are many possible focal points, such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, la Place Vendome, the Louvre, and the Pont Neuf, just to name a few?

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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1 Response to Parisian focal points

  1. Craig says:

    One of the advantages of picking a tall structure is that it can be seen from all points…. therefore, in Paris I would have picked the foot of the Eiffel Tower. In NYC, it would be a problem, as Empire State Building is more iconic than WTC towers even though the latter are taller. For that reason I would head to Empire State Bldg. Grand Central is iconic also but not very tall at all.

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