What is a Social Networking Analysis - Interview

I interviewed Jing Tian a PhD student in the program of Human and Organizational Learning. She works in an organization that provides job training with a focus on leadership, communication and change management. When she looked at PhD programs she was advised by her coworkers to look at George Washington University where she studies now.

During the interview she expressed her interest in Social Networking Analysis which is the study of the connections between people within organizations. She explained that understanding the interconnections between people is crucial to understand organizations’ dynamics. It allows visualizing the invisible connections between people by creating a social network map.

Computer sciences and network science fields were the first to develop the network theory. The goal of network theory is to map and visualize the existing relations between objects. The connections between objects can be asymmetric and symmetric. The technology used to map those interactions was restrained to computer sciences for a long time.  Nowadays, Organizational Learning uses this theory to map social network.

The interest of Jing Tian is to use this theory and its concepts in order to apply it to human interactions within organization. Mapping those interactions allows consultant, researcher and managers to better understand the network of communication, influence, and relationships within an organization.

This theory is relevant to my focus on change management as it can help depict connections between people. A Social Networking Map can uncover unbalanced power, non-existing relationships, and dysfunctional processes. This tool can be used as an eye opener for the people within and outside the organization. People may not be aware of the informal network which is more relevant to study in the change process than the formal network established in Organizational chart. Mapping the social network allows to identify the most influential people in the organization. Once identified, influential people can be empowered to be the “porte parole” of the change process. 

If you want to learn more about Network theory I invite you to consult the following books and journals:
·         The Strength of Weak Ties by Mark S. Granovetter, American Journal of Sociology, Volume 78, Issue 6 (May 1973), 1360-1380
·         Academy of Management, http://aom.org/ and their Academy of Management Journal (AMJ) http://aom.org/amj/
·         Journal of Management and organization http://jmo.e-contentmanagement.com/

If you would like to be interviewed to talk about your subject of study and interest you can contact me at acgraber@gmail.com. This blog aims to share knowledges and experiences to improve organization life for all.  

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