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
I spent most of last week at the 5th Trier Summer School on Social Network Analysis. I have to say that Markus Gamper, Andreas Herz and Richard Heidler were doing a great job as lecturers and convenors of the workshops. John Padgett from the University of Chicago held an inspiring keynote speech on the first night talking about his enduring work on the Medici.
The first two days were filled with theory (an excellent, extensive reading list was provided prior to the course), the last 3.5 days were practical training with real data using different types of software, namely Pajek, Gephi, Vennmaker and R. While I was already familiar with a number of the readings and concepts discussed, the use of the different software tools for data entry, visualization and analysis was still new to me. Although we discussed a number of interesting data sets, the most entertaining one was the network of Richard’s wedding party where people were seated at tables based on friendship cliques. I guess you can tell that Richard treasures his profession and discipline 😉
The most valuable bit of the week was probably a session that could best be translated as ‘research consultancy’. Everyone had the chance to submit their project proposals by the beginning of the summer in order to have them reviewed by the researchers listed above. I have had some feedback on my work from colleagues in my discipline when attending the AOM2011, however the summer school was a great chance to collect more ideas in methodological terms. Richard made me aware of the use of R for generating stochastic models of networks and conducting significance tests, for example.
Throughout the week I paid closer (than usual) attention to the #SNA hashtag on Twitter and discovered a few interesting posts. There is an active Gephi community in Berlin. Furthermore, I discovered niche sites for SNA in historical research and SNA in organizational research. Last but not least, I came across a new tool for managerial network analysis called Socilyzer.
I’ve recently switched universities and moved from the United Kingdom to Germany. I’m now enrolled in a program with the title ‘Dynamic Capabilities and Relationships’. The graduate school is run jointly by the Europa-Universität Viadrina, situated in Frankfurt (Oder), and the German Graduate School of Management and Law in Heilbronn. We’re a team of six researchers: five PhD students and one PostDoc. The aim of the doctoral program is to create knowledge about how organizations achieve and sustain competitive advantage in rapidly changing environments through relationships with other organizations and stakeholders. You can see the people involved in the picture below (photo credit: EUV press office, Heide Fest).
I’m excited to be part of this newly established program and, luckily, will be able to continue the work on my original research proposal which I developed in Nottingham. It suits well within the realm of the program, primarily because my focus has been on organizational efficiency and relationships from the very start.
I want to take this chance to thank my previous supervisors, John Richards and Iain Coyne, for their great support. Both of them have guided my thinking and my professional development significantly.
The University of Nottingham, with its campuses China and Malaysia and more than 8,000 international students, truly deserves to be called an international university. The administration is now taking advantage of all the students from abroad and has introduced a Traveling Researchers Scheme which I joined recently. If you are traveling frequently (which I am ;-), you may meet with prospective students in their home country and chat with them about studying in Nottingam. This includes advice on how to get the applications right and options for funding studies in the UK. In a way this scheme seems similar to many ambassador programs on social network sites. I frequently visit Germany and North America and I will be happy to meet with anyone interested in studying here. The International Office hosts a blog on which current meeting opportunities are published.