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The Role of Social Networks in Collaborative Networks


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Presented at Social Network/ing Research Symposium, University of Toronto, Nov 2&3, 2007 by Dimitrina Dimitrova, York University and
Don Brookes, Canadian Water Network.

Research team:
D. Dimitrova, University of Toronto
E. Koku, Drexel University
B. Wellman, University of Toronto
H. White, Drexel University

Published in: Business, Education, Technology
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The Role of Social Networks in Collaborative Networks

  1. 1. Social Network/ing Research Symposium, University of Toronto, Nov 2&3, 2007 Dimitrina Dimitrova, York University Don Brookes, Canadian Water Network
  2. 2. <ul><li>One of over twenty Networks of Centres of Excellence </li></ul><ul><li>Started in 2001 </li></ul><ul><li>Funded for a maximum of 14 years </li></ul><ul><li>Purpose: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Foster innovation in water management and technology by funding and collaboration of research with the private and public sectors </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Thinking Trap: “CWN’s Network” Future Without CWN?
  4. 4. <ul><li>What’s in a name? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Canadian Water Network </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A Knowledge Innovation Network </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A Network of Centres of Excellence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategy: “Grow the network!” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The consequences of vagueness …. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Social Network Analysis and Setting Strategy for the Canadian Water Network </li></ul>
  5. 5. The house I got. The house I wanted.
  6. 6. <ul><ul><li>Research team </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>D. Dimitrova, University of Toronto </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>E. Koku, Drexel University </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>B. Wellman, University of Toronto </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>H. White, Drexel University </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Who works in the area? Who do they know? How do they work? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are their socio-demographic characteristics? What are their networks? How do they use them? How do they create ties? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What is the network of researchers and practitioners in the area of water? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are the connections? Who are the important people? Who collaborates with whom? Who cites whom? Is collaboration across sectors, multidisciplinary, and nation-wide? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How does institutional context affect collaboration? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How do universities affect collaborative research? What is the role of CWN? </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Web-based network survey N=173 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Recruitment: CWN, OWWA, workshops, word of mouth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analyses: Centrality, Cliques, Bridges </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Citation analysis N=31 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Central CWN members </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Semi-structured interviews N=64 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Purposive sample </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>QSR NVivo </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Review of documents </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research proposals, internal reports, records </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Using Networks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who are the people in the area of water? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who do they know? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do they use their ties to start projects? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are there ties to support partnerships across sectors? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Building Networks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How are cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary ties created? </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Mature experienced professionals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mean age 48 years; mean work experience 15 years </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Diverse in terms of sector and discipline </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Over 3 dozens disciplines </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Senior positions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>53% full professors; 44% senior managers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Established networks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Known network members for 8 years on the average </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Work ties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More federal staff and academics work with the majority of network members </li></ul></ul>Who Works in the Area of Water?
  11. 11. <ul><li>Academics mobilize personal networks in team selection </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I don’t … work with people I don’t like (Principal Investigator).” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Practitioners join projects with people they know </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ … industry never knows when they enter into an agreement with a researcher, whether they’re going to find something bad and run out to the newspapers … (Academic, former government employee)” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Typical team: long-term collaborators and some newcomers referred by them </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>Increase commitment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I don’t know that we’ve had difficulties, simply because you pick your people at the beginning … people you can trust, people who have a track record of doing stuff, and on whom you can rely and things unfold smoothly (Principal Investigator).” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Facilitate communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ We always wanted to know that it had been received by them, because if it hadn’t …. it’s too late – you’ve lost the sample. I don’t think they appreciated the importance of it (Principal Investigator).” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Decreases communication and cooperation problems </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Ties across sectors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Federal staff most outward oriented: 81% cross-sectoral ties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Academics most inward oriented: 47% cross-sectoral ties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most common cross-sectoral tie is between academics and federal staff </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cross-sectoral collaboration </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A dozen work cliques </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Over half of the cliques are cross-sectoral </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Out of the cross-sectoral cliques, most include academics and federal staff </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Sector of Respondents (Columns) by Sector of their Ties (Rows) N = 1904 SECTOR OF RESPONDENT Academic Federal Government Provincial Government Local Government Industry NGO Others Total SECTOR OF TIE Academic 53% (424) 26% (47) 14% (27) 10% (32) 18% (42) 11% (14) 18% (7) 593 Federal Government 14% (113) 19% (34) 10% (19) 4% (12) 5% (13) 4% (5) 3% (1) 197 Provincial Government 9% (75) 16% (29) 38% (72) 11% (36) 13% (32) 10% (12) 16% (6) 262 Local Government 6% (46) 10% (18) 14% (27) 42% (132) 26% (61) 13% (16) 16% (6) 306 Industry 10% (76) 8% (15) 16% (30) 17% (52) 31% (73) 18% (22) 5% (2) 270 NGO 6% (49) 5% (9) 3% (6) 6% (19) 3% (8) 22% (27) 29% (11) 129 Others 1% (11) 15% (27) 4% (7) 10% (30) 3% (8) 22% (27) 13% (5) 115 N 100% (794) 100% (179) 100% (188) 100% (313) 100% (237) 100% (123) 100% (38) 1872
  15. 15. Clique : 164, 128, 146
  16. 16. <ul><li>Ties grow “naturally” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Normal course of professional life: studies, workplace, community work, events </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Few opportunities for developing cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary ties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Universities do little to encourage such ties </li></ul></ul><ul><li>CWN role </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides community for those interested in multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ With Canadian Water Network, one of the things that I’ve been trying to do … is to find my academic clan“ (Multidisciplinary researcher) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some CWN meetings creates such ties </li></ul></ul>
  17. 18. <ul><li>Accept the researcher institutional and project management environment as given </li></ul><ul><li>A self-sustaining network is not probable </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Need the structure a CWN provides </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Money is still the honey, but where it comes from makes a difference </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Balance density and openness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid growth for growth's sake </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trusted inter-sectoral connections are key </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Attract new connections around contributing to solutions </li></ul></ul>
  18. 19. <ul><li>Use a new strategy for funding to animate network </li></ul><ul><ul><li>User driven, consortia funding </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Develop inter and intra provincial, municipal and industrial ties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Locus of implementation and greatest potential </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Change emphasis of researcher networking meetings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Smaller problem centered researcher/user workshops </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Combine strategies for knowledge, innovation support and interpersonal connections </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge management and social capital are two sides of the innovation coin </li></ul></ul>
  19. 20. <ul><li>Continue web-based survey </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Monitor development and effects of actions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Develop internet social networking tools and support </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social networking specific to innovation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Develop knowledge base tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make knowledge more accessible to users </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Explore how we might encourage development of brokers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are brokers or can they be developed? </li></ul></ul>