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Thanks for the pointer. Serendipitously, Pentland's Social Physics is in my Kindle Library. Keep an eye out. I will shortly post a reply to this and other suggestions made so far. Be interested to see what you think.


Sent from my iPad

On 2014/09/30, at 22:33, Victoria Axelrod <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


You might take a look at the work of Alex "Sandy" Pentland at MIT - "Social Physics" 

Similar to using chemistry as an analogy to account for the individual's attributes, Pentland uses physics. His first book describing the attributes is "Honest Signals".  The honest signals are not really attributes but rather signals humans send and pick up on in interactions which can be detected and tracked electronically - much more reliable than either self or peer report.


Victoria G. Axelrod
Principal, Axelrod Becker Consulting
445 East 86th Street
New York, NY 10028
Blog: 21st Century Organization

On Sep 28, 2014, at 10:04 PM, John McCreery wrote:

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Dear Friends,

A few days ago I was reading Stephen Borgatti and Virginie Lopez-Kidwell's "Network Theory" article in the SAGE Handbook of Social Network Analysis. Impressed by the argument that social network theories (theories in which network properties are the independent variables) can be divided into two broad types, network flow theories and network architecture theories, I began to ponder the relevance of what I was reading to my own research on networks formed by members of project teams that create award-winning advertising in Japan and the frustration I encounter when trying to relate network properties to my historical and ethnographic data. A thought popped into my mind. People in the advertising world talk about the importance of team chemistry for creativity. Similar conversations occur wherever project teams pursue innovation. But neither network flow theories nor network architecture theories address this issue. Attempting to apply them directly to the study of project team performance is, in effect, like doing chemistry without molecules or the table of elements required to explain molecular interactions. Excited by this idea, I composed the following abstract for a paper on this subject.

It has been suggested that network theories fall into two broad types: network flow theories and network architecture theories. Drawing on research on networks formed by project teams that create advertising, this paper proposes the need for a third type of theory: network chemistry theory. It argues that network flow and network architecture theories are, in effect, analogous to chemistry without molecules. Networks are formed between actors treated as atomic individuals. Attributes may be assigned to differentiate broad classes of individuals. The behavior of the individuals in question is said to be effected by such network-related factors as homophily, triad balance, or centrality. The motivation of individuals who make up networks is described in simple terms, desire for safety, effectance, and status. But the chemistry that occurs when individuals with different skills and temperaments are brought together in project teams whose purpose is innovation, the creation of something not present before, to achieve specific concrete results, is omitted from both network flow and network architecture theories. This paper suggests some of the issues confronting those who might attempt to develop such a network chemistry theory addressing this gap. 

At this point in my research I am relying heavily on Charles Kadushin's Understanding Social Networks in my efforts to develop these ideas. The question I put to you here is what other work should I be looking at? The Kindle reader on my iPad is already well-stocked with such recent books as Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman's Networked: The New Social Operating System, Borgatti, Everett and Johnson's Analyzing Social Networks, and Dominguez and Hollstein's Mixed Methods Social Networks Research. There may, however, be important work relevant to my topic that is not cited in these sources. If you have suggestions, I would be most grateful.


John McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN
Tel. +81-45-314-9324
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