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Please consider submitting abstracts for the Session „Social Networks and Spatial Embedding“ at the 3rd European Conference on Social Networks (EUSN) taking place at Johannes-Gutenberg-University Mainz (Germany), September 26-29, 2017. Submission deadline is March 31.

Please feel free to forward the CfP to any colleagues who may be interested. We are very much looking forward to your submissions.

Best regards,
Kerstin Sailer & Olaf Rank

3rd European Conference on Social Networks (EUSN)

Johannes-Gutenberg-University Mainz, September 26-29, 2017

Social Networks and Spatial Embedding

In recent years, research on social networks has begun to increasingly consider the contexts in which relational ties between actors are formed. Rather than just focusing on the relational structures of networks, the ‘spatial turn’ in the social sciences has finally reached network research, and questions of the spatial embedding of actors have gained momentum. However, an interest in spatial contexts is clearly not new: Georg Simmel for instance has contributed to our understanding of cross-cutting social circles and the spatial nature of these. In this essay on the modern metropolis he argues that spatial proximity in cities does not automatically result in social closeness. On the contrary, in our modern mobile society it seems that social networks of strong ties have increasingly ‘stretched’ across greater geographical distances, so that the lack of proximity does not necessarily mean ties cease to exist.

There is ample evidence for the importance of proximity on tie creation at various levels ranging from collaborative interactions among employees in multinational companies (MNCs) with subsidiaries and corporate entities all around the world to increased levels of interaction among co-located employees within single office buildings. However, independent from the specific level addressed, modern means of communication available today are likely to have altered the importance of spatial distance when interacting with others. In other words, employees can be expected to have become increasingly used to interact with colleagues and partners from other organizations independently from where their partners are physically located. This raises the question, whether spatial proximity between actors still plays the dominant role that extant research long has suggested. Instead, it could be argued that other forms of closeness among actors may step by step replace spatial proximity as a dominant driver of tie creation. In other words, whether or not actors are socially close (strong ties), physically close (proximity), or conceptually and psychologically close (homophily) creates multiple layers of complexities in network research.

With a focus on intra-organizational networks and the multi-layered geographies of proximity, we propose to highlight existing and potential future research at the intersection of social networks, organizational science and architectural research. We invite submission that address the relationship between different types of closeness (i.e., spatial, social, and psychological) on the embeddedness of individuals in social networks. Submissions may address but are not limited to the following research questions:

·       Does the importance of spatial proximity vary systematically with scale? In other words, are the impacts of spatial proximity the same for local, regional, or even global social networks?

·       To what extent do different types of closeness interact with respect to their effect on the tie creating behavior of employees?

·       Are there any temporal relationships between the different types of closeness? In other words, may a specific type of closeness represent an antecedent to another, which ultimately influences actors’ embeddedness in social networks?

·       Has the importance of the different types of closeness changed over time? What are the drivers of these changes?

·       What are organizational strategies to counteract the potentially negative effects different forms of distance may have on employees’ tie creating behavior? 

Abstract Submission:

Please submit your abstract (max. 500 words) before march 31, 2017 via the conference management system CONVERIA ( and indicate the name of the session: “Social Networks and Spatial Embedding”.

Session organizers:

Olaf Rank (University of Freiburg), Kerstin Sailer (University College London, UK) 

Prof. Dr. Olaf Rank
Sprecher des Instituts für Wirtschaftswissenschaften
Direktor des Lehrstuhls für Organisation und Personal
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Platz der Alten Synagoge (KG II)
79085 Freiburg
Tel. +49 (0)761 203-2389
      +49 (0)761 203-2390 (Sekretariat)
Fax +49 (0)761 203-2394
Prof. Dr. Olaf Rank
Institute of Economics and Business Administration
Director and Chair for Organization and HRM
Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg
Platz der Alten Synagoge (KG II)
79085 Freiburg (Germany)
Phone: +49 (0) 761 203-2389
          +49 (0) 761 203-2390 (administrative office)
Fax      +49 (0) 761 203-2394

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