Greenwich Summer School on Social Network Analysis

From June 17 to June 25, 2013, the University of Greenwich held a Summer School on Social Network Analysis which I attended (for an overview of alternatives, see here). The University is home to the Centre for Business Network Analysis, which is headed by Bruce Cronin. The way the center is positioned is rather unique and, to my knowledge, the only comparable entity is the LINKS Center for Social Network Analysis in Kentucky, which is run by Dan Brass. Several courses were offered at the summer school, some for beginners, others for more advanced students. I took the course on models of longitudinal network analysis which was organized and lead by Guido Conaldi. Continue reading Greenwich Summer School on Social Network Analysis

The AoM Conference 2012 – Impresssions and Reflections

The first couple of days at the Academy of Management Conference went by quickly and it has been very interesting. I have had the chance to see a number of people present whose ideas I have intensively dealt with over the past year or two. I spent most of my time at the OCIS PhD Consortium and the Professional Development Workshops listed below.

Here is a quick wrap-up of the events which I participated in and what has been most interesting to me about them.

OCIS PhD Consortium

The consortium was extremely well organized and thought through so kudos to Youngjin Yoo for organizing it. I usually pay much attention to the format of these events. In this case, I really liked the mix of student involvement and feedback/advice from senior faculty. We started the workshop with roundtable discussions of our own proposals. My group mentor was Sirkka Jarvenpaa. Due to the small size of the groups, all participants had actually read the papers, were able to give detailed, quality feedback, and ask very targeted questions. The morning roundtable session was followed by a number of stimulating talks by senior scholars, such as Michael Barrett and Robert Fichman. The keynote, and my personal favorite, was the talk by Noshir Contractor on building strong academic networks as a form of career development. Last but least, we were asked to present posters of our research at a reception of the OCIS division. Offering food and drinks certainly helped to bring a lot of spectators to the exhibition room and gave us the chance to present our ideas to a critical audience of a number of potential reviewers and journal editors.

PDW on Social Media

The Social Media PDW line-up of speakers read much like a ‘Who’s who’ in research on social media and online communities. I perceived the presence of so many renowned scholars as slightly intimidating, however the discussions at the PDW were colleagial and even the most senior scholars were very personable. Looking at the structure and process of the PDW, I liked the idea of having several panelists present only 2-3 minutes in order to raise key questions researchers in the field are facing. The most interesting contribution, to my mind, was Steven Borgatti’s and Jerry Kane’s intent to blend  social media research with social network research using danah boyd’s affordances.

PDW on Sociomateriality

One of the talks I was particularly looking forward to was the one by Wanda Orlikowski who is an advocate of an approach called sociomateriality. Yet, most striking to me was not the methodological discussion surrounding this approach, but instead the research design used by Wanda in one of her recent studies called ‘Getting the truth’: exploring the material grounds of institutional dynamics in social media. In her study, Wanda contrasted how travel ratings on TripAdvisor, an online travel rating site, and a standard British travel guide by the AA are constructed, the former encompassing a mass of user-generated content whereas the latter is produced by paid experts. One the questions repeatedly posed about research concerning online communities is ‘What is different about online communities compared to offline ones?’. Wanda’s example about how these ratings come about was a superb example of where to look for these differences.

AOM PhD Consortia and Professional Development Workshops

The Academy of Management Conference in Boston is just around the corner. It’s taking place from August 3-7, 2012. I had the privilege to attend the conference for the first time last year and wrote several blog posts about the experience. First of all, I’d like to say that the conference is great value for money. Students pay 90 USD for the annual membership and another 90 USD to sign up for the conference. In return, they get five days of high quality symposia, paper sessions, roundtable discussions, and much more.

If you’re a PhD student like myself, you should definitely consider applying for one of the several doctoral consortia. Last year, I attended a session hosted by the Organizational Development and Change (ODC) division. This year, I found another one that suits my research interests even better. It is the PhD consortium organized by the Organizational Communication and Information Systems. The organizer, Professor Yoo, even managed to secure a research grant, which helps most of the attendants finance their stay. 

The second most outstanding offer next to the PhD consortia is probably what is called, in AOM speak, a PDW, i.e. a Professional Development Workshop. This type of workshop is targeted at established researchers who want to familiarize themselves with methods they haven’t used before or with emerging fields of research. I’ve listed my favorites below.

  1. Researching the Informal Economy: Opportunities and Challenges of Social Media Research
  2. Sociomateriality in Practice: Considering Consequences in Organizational Life and Research
  3. Advanced Networks PDW: Cutting-Edge Social Network Theoretical Work and ERGM

To my mind, these workshops are a great way to get in touch with the people whose work I’m reading on a daily basis. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Steve Borgatti, Ann Majchrzak, Samer Faraj, Sirkka Jarvenpaa, Wanda Orlikowski, Jerry Kane, as well as Martin Kilduff present and discuss their recent research projects.

Research Brief on Social Network Analysis in Management

I’m currently preparing a research brief on social networks and organizational social network analysis for one of my courses. These are some of the more recent publications I located. Are there any others you could point me to? Suggestions are much appreciated.

Borgatti, Stephen P., & Halgin, D. S. (2011). On Network Theory. Organization Science.

Borgatti, Stephen P., Mehra, A., Brass, D. J., & Labianca, G. (2009). Network Analysis in the Social Sciences. Science, 323(5916), 892-895.
Brass, D. J. (2011). A social network perspective on industrial/organizational psychology. In S. W. J. Kozlowski (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.
Gray, P., Parise, S., & Iyer, B. (2011). Innovation Impacts of Using Social Bookmarking Systems. Management Information Systems Quarterly, 35(3), 629-643.
Kilduff, M., & Brass, D. J. (2010). Organizational Social Network Research: Core Ideas and Key Debates. The Academy of Management Annals, 4, 317-357.
Scott, J. (2010). Social network analysis: developments, advances, and prospects. Social Network Analysis and Mining, 1, 21-26.

The History of Social Network Analysis

While I did come across a lot of technical writing about social network analysis to this date, I wasn’t lucky enough to stumble upon the works of Linton C. Freeman and Steve Borgatti until fairly recently. Professor Freeman has written a complete book on the Development of Social Network Analysis and Professor Borgatti and his colleagues have published a paper that serves as an overview to Network Analysis in the Social Sciences. Both are worth a read and I thought I’d share the links with you. Enjoy!