Cumulative advantage

Summary

...someone who is incredibly successful may owe their success to a combination of luck and cumulative advantage rather than superior talent

J.K. Rowling and the Chamber of Literary Fame
by Duncan J. Watts, July 19, 2013, Bloomberg

“Last weekend’s revelation that J.K. Rowling is the author of the critically acclaimed and — until now — commercially unsuccessful crime novel “The Cuckoo’s Calling” has electrified the book world…After all, if she can impress the critics without the benefit of her towering reputation, then surely her success is deserved.

And yet what this episode actually reveals is the opposite: that Rowling’s spectacular career is likely more a fluke of history than a consequence of her unique genius.

The Experiment

market success is driven less by intrinsic talent than by “cumulative advantage,” a rich-get-richer process in which early, possibly even random events are amplified by social feedback and produce large differences in future outcomes… someone who is incredibly successful may owe their success to a combination of luck and cumulative advantage rather than superior talent.

J.K. Rowling and the Chamber of Literary Fame

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