You are looking for the grail, and I sure hope you find it. In my searches and discussions with other SNA advocates it seems apparent there is a dearth of research into specific antecedents and consequences of SNA metrics with relation to organisational performance. This is a potential problem for us as a research community...as many people asked me when I first entered the SNA domain..."OK, so you found these structures...so what".
Indeed I would like to propose that perhaps those who
have an interest in this area from the SOCNET community may wish to send in refs
they know of, and if there are none, then we could exchange suggestions about
what SNA metrics might be related to organisational performance. I
would be happy to do the collating if people want to send any references and
suggestions to me, and I can post out the mass of results.
The biggest problem as I see it is that every organisation varies in what it is trying to do, and the processes that it develops and evolves. The network patterns that exist in an organisation are analogous to the forming of neural connections when an organism learns. From a learning perspective, the 'best' pattern is one which best suits the task...and the variation between organisations is so huge that generalisation of findings in any one domain is problematic. However some suggestions follow:
You may wish to contact Jim Coplien at UMIST...he has done some quantitative work on looking at SNA metrics across a large number of software development companies and has identified certain heuristics about patterns which he sees as indicative of good organisational performance. His email is [log in to unmask] He has a book in progress which you may be able to get from him.
Also Kathleen Carley [log in to unmask] at
Cargegie Mellon University has done a lot of work in modelling organisations
with respect to structures and performance. You may find her work of
There is some general work in the management sciences are on the relationships between different organisational structures (i.e. hierarchies, matrix structures, anarchic structures, etc) and grouping (functional, geographical etc) and organisational performance in relation to different environments and industry types. SNA can offer avenues to assess the degree to which an organisation follows such patterns, and limited inferences could be made from such data I suppose.
Some specific (at hand) references follow...relevance may vary:
Hope this is of some assistance.
If you find anything else useful please let me know.
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Email. [log in to unmask]
From: Doug Bryan [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Monday, 21 October 2002 12:20
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: business cases for SNA?
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I'm looking for references to or anecdotes of business cases for social
network analysis (SNA). I'm familiar with research literature that
correlates social network properties with a wide variety of performance
characteristics -- everything from family planning uptake to high-tech
patents. But are there any more direct, documented cases in the area of
organizational performace? Something where organizational performace was
measured, SNA was applied and indicated changes were made, and then
organizational performance increased?
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