SNA Workshop with Steve Borgatti @GGS in Heilbronn, Germany

Those of you who have been frequent visitors to my blog will have noticed that I take an active interest in social network analysis. I’ve prepared an overview of summer schools previously and written about my experiences at the Greenwich Summer School on Social Network Analysis, for example. At my home institution, the German Graduate School of Management and Law, we have recently put on a new series of seminars called ‘Methods in Business Research’. For the next seminar, we’re proud to have Steve Borgatti of the University of Kentucky, who is, without doubt, one of the most accomplished SNA scholars in the field of management. The seminar with Steve will take place from April 9-11, 2015 at GGS in Heilbronn, Germany. Below you can find more information about the content of the seminar and how to register.  Continue reading SNA Workshop with Steve Borgatti @GGS in Heilbronn, Germany

SNA Courses and Summer Schools in 2013

I’ve been closely following the offerings for courses with a focus on social network analysis over the past couple of years. Roughly two years ago, I compiled a list of events taking place in Europe. Back then, I decided for an introductory course taking place in Trier, Germany, which I really enjoyed. Recently, I’ve repeated my search and here is a selection of a few, slightly more international, courses that are of particular interest to me:

Although the Sunbelt conference is conveniently close this year, the courses offered are fairly short. Therefore, I’m likely to attend the Greenwich course which is spread out over a week. Interestingly, Christopher Tunnard has also converted the spreadsheet I linked to earlier into a website listing all SNA courses with a business focus around the world.

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.

Save the date: Sunbelt 2013 in Hamburg May 21-26, 2013

Here are some interesting news for the ones among you who are interested in social network analysis (SNA) and live in Germany. Next year’s SUNBELT conference is going to be conveniently close as it is held in Hamburg from May 21-26. It will be organized by Betina Hollstein, Sonja Drobnic, and Michael Schnegg, all from the University of Hamburg. More information should follow shortly on the website, the INSNA blog, and on Facebook.

Talking about network analysis, @bkeegan pointed me to an extremely interesting article by Tom Valente published in the journal Science the other day. In the article, Tom describes different types of interventions that help to drive change in a network. Some of you probably find this interesting as well. Please see below for the full reference and the link to the article.


Valente, T. W. (2012). Network Interventions. Science, 337(6090), 49–53. doi:10.1126/science.1217330

List of Social Network Courses in Europe

One particularly useful source of information that I draw on frequently is the SOCNET mailing list. Sometime towards the end of last year Christopher Tunnard collected information on the different types of social network courses being offered internationally. He consequently collected the data in a spreadsheet and you can now browse all courses by institution, instructor, category and name. I think this is pretty helpful when you’re trying to locate a course near you in a particular academic field. So, if you’re based in Europe and you’re interested in organization studies, psychology and communications – just like myself – you may find the following courses insightful:

Aarhus University: Introductory Social Network Analysis & Organizational Network Analysis

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona: Theory, Methods and Applications of Social Networks (Summer School)

University of Essex: Introduction & Advanced Social Network Analysis (Summer School)

University of Glasgow: Assessing the Impact of Social Networks on Organizational Performance

University of Greenwich: Business Networks

Universität Trier: Sum­mer School on So­ci­al Net­work Ana­ly­sis

Tilburg University: Interorganizational Relationships

So, you’re doing research on social media. Sounds interesting . . .

. . . but what do you actually do?

This is a question that I hear very frequently. By writing this blog, I hope I can shed some light on the life and the daily work of a PhD student.

Right now I am in the process of narrowing down my research focus. Admittedly, there are a lot of people writing and talking about social media. Many of them call themselves experts 😉 Apart from the academic literature, I have looked at a number of presentations on slideshare and read even more blog posts. I will share the most interesting bits with you over the coming months. What intrigues me most is to see what kind of people write about the subject and what professional background they have. Legal professionals, for example, tend to view strengths and weaknesses of social media tools differently from people in the communications sectors.

These are the areas surrounding social media that I find particularly interesting:

  1. History/Evolution
  2. Knowledge Management, Collaboration and Learning
  3. Human Resources
  4. Psychology
  5. The Future of Work
  6. Legal Issues
  7. Social Network Analysis
  8. Social Capital
  9. PR/Marketing
  10. Analytics/Metrics
  11. Science

Over the next few days, I will introduce each of these themes separately and explain why I think they are relevant. I will also provide a few references for existing literature and mention the people, events and institutions I have come across so far. Is there an area that you think I have missed? Where do you believe social media has the greatest impact?