Organizations and Social Networks
While increasingly confused with the study of social media, the study of social networks involves a set of theoretical and analytical strategies for understanding systems of interdependent actors and actions. Examples of such systems include organizations, markets and other similar institutions designed to facilitate information exchange, monitoring, and coordination. This course introduces the conceptual and practical tools that define the field of social network analysis. Some of the main analytical areas discussed include centrality, social influence, social selection, and statistical testing of network hypotheses. Substantive topics covered include how networks affect attitudes, preferences, behavior and performance of people in organizations. By the end of the course, students will acquire the basic skills needed to map out networks of social, economic and communication relations, diagnose features of networks that might help or hinder individual or team performance, and be able to recognize and describe the main features of network structure. Contemporary network research is unique in that its methodological tools derive directly from practical as well as theoretical concerns. For this reason, class time is allocated equally to methodological and substantive issues, with each substantive topic tied to specific analytical strategies.