Social Networks, Careers and Quality Improvement: New Developments in Applied Social Network Research

Monday, July 14, 2014: 6:10 PM
Room: 416
Oral Presentation
Malcolm ALEXANDER , School of Humanities, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia
Social Network Analysis (SNA) in applied, practical settings has made significant advances in the last decade. This paper reviews the new research designs they utilise and their practical research applications. The paper begins with the best known, sociometric ‘whole network’ WN-SNA research tradition used in organizational and educational research (Kilduff and Tsai 2003). The paper then maps the differences between WN-SNA and ego-centric network (egonet) approaches used by survey researchers. The key difference turns on the full identification of a respondent’s contacts in WN-SNA as compared with the egonet practice of using de-identified IDs only. In recent studies Ron Burt (Neighbour Networks, 2010), a key proponent of egonet survey methods, has shifted to collecting data on fully identified contacts in contexts where this is sensible. This paper argues that this move, combined with important features of Burt’s earlier research practice (Structural holes, 2001) creates an important new, ‘partial sociometric’, research design for social network research. It outlines the methodological coherence of this new research design and notes some interesting overlaps with the methodologies of Socio-Cognitive Mapping (SCM) used in educational research (Kindermann 2007). It describes Burt’s latest work on quality improvement in health delivery to illustrate this research design and discusses an application of this design in a local participant-observation network study.

Burt, R. S. (2001). Structural holes versus network closure as social capital. Social capital : theory and research. N. Lin, K. S. Cook and R. S. Burt. New York, Aldine de Gruyter: xii, 333.

Burt, R. S. (2010). Neighbor networks : competitive advantage local and personal. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Kilduff, M. and W. Tsai (2003). Social networks and organizations. London, SAGE.

Kindermann, T. A. (2007). "Effects of Naturally Existing Peer Groups on Changes in Academic Engagement in a Cohort of Sixth Graders." Child Development 78(4): 1186-1203.