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.
Below is an account of the most prolific authors in the field of social network analysis as recorded by Otte and Rousseau in 2002. The authors were ranked according to the numbers of publications in the Sociological Abstracts database. I have linked the names to the researchers’ websites and included their Twitter accounts, if avaible, in parentheses. Alternatively, you can also visit their profiles on the INSNA website. If you know of any more recent references or are aware of similar studies from different academic disciplines, I would certainly love to hear from you. Similarly, I would like to know whether I’ve missed anyone who’s already on Twitter.
Wellman, Barry (@barrywellman)
Everett, Martin G.
Burt, Ronald S.
Friedkin, Noah E.
Borgatti, Stephen P. (@ittagroB)
Johnsen, Eugene C.
Otte, E., & Rousseau, R. (2002). Social network analysis: a powerful strategy, also for the information sciences. Journal of Information Science, 28(6), 441.
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!
The aim of this workshop is to encourage multidisciplinary discussions related to novel ideas and application geared towards analyzing social network data. By bringing together researchers in the fields of SNA, data mining, and management studies, the workshop will focus on identifying the “grey” areas of collaboration among their respective disciplines:
- The role of data mining techniques in identifying scalable methods for the extraction and organization of social relations for management research and business practice
- The role of management research in guiding data mining efforts and SNA metrics development towards theoretically-grounded discoveries about social network emergence.
- The role of Social Network Analysis in developing and applying metrics and tools for the mapping, evaluation, visualization, and design of social relations in organizations.
So far, I throroughly enjoyed everything I read by Rob Cross. He provides hands-on experience on how to use social network analysis within organizations. In his book The hidden power of social networks he even provides a step-by-step guide and sample questionnaires on how to conduct your own analyses.
According to Professor Cross, the more common applications of social network analysis include:
- Supporting partnerships and alliances
- Assessing strategy execution
- Improving strategic decision making in top leadership teams
- Integrating networks across core processes
- Promoting innovation
- Ensuring integration post-merger or large-sclae change
- Developing communities of practice
Can you recommend any further applied writings on the subject? If so, I’d be happy to hear from you. Please drop me a line.