Social Network Analysis: an introduction

Any social organisation from the smallest team to the largest enterprise carries with it a social network. Until recently these social networks were largely invisible to the organisations which depended on them. Now Social Network Analysis or SNA is a hot topic but what is it, where did it come from and how does it work: Richard Cross, Guest Author, explains.

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Swarm behavior and organizational teams

Frank Lacombe of the Evolutionary and Swarm Design Group at the University of Calgary offers a good introduction to the concept of Swarm Behavior. Using examples of ants, bees, birds, fish, and termites he identifies the two main advantages of such decentralized systems: robustness and flexibility. The objective of bioteaming is to realise these same two swarm behavior advantages in organisational teams and inter-organisational business networks.

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Collaboration versus self sufficiency: an enlightening parable

In today’s hyper-individualistic world we often behave as if collaboration with others is a nice ideal but not absolutely essential. We believe that as highly equipped and capable modern individuals we can get most of what we need done by ourselves – alone if we need to.

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Social Network Design tips

In ‘How to build your network’, by Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap, Harvard Business Review December 2005, the authors argue that strong personal networks don’t just happen but need careful cultivation involving ‘relatively high-stakes activities’ with diverse groups of people.

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The short message phenomenon challenged

We are bombarded with the idea its good to talk and its good to text. But is texting and other forms of mobile phone interaction a useful form of communication? Or is it even a form of communication at all or something totally different? In a mini-book “Heidegger, Habermas and the mobile phone” the author invokes some key thinkers of the twentieth century to offer an essential alternative to the new doctrine of ‘m-communication’: Martin Heidegger, who saw humanity as ‘the entity which talks’ and Jürgen Habermas, current-day advocate of authentic communication.

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Team Leadership: Stone Age Management fights back

The Apprentice (BBC TV) which showcases the management style of Alan Sugar, founder and chairman of Amstrad, implies that aggressive leadership is the real secret of business success. However Sally Bibb, author of The Stone Age Company, contends that much of the success achieved by such leaders is in spite of rather than a result of their ‘no-prisoners’ style.

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The Internet and social engagement

Authentic social experience is beyond the web.In On the Internet by Hubert Dreyfus, a UC-Berkeley philosophy professor, provides a truely unique philosophical perspective on the internet. Dreyfus seriously challenges a number of widely held assumptions such as the usefulness of search engines, the effectiveness of distance learning and the possibility of meaningful virtual relationships.

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