"Are you a micro or macro researcher?" This is common question posed to researchers in the management field. A micro researcher is concerned about the psychological processes that drive human behavior in organizations, and the macro researcher is interested in organizational systems or firms interacting with one another. But I often have a difficult time answering this question. I study social networks within organizations and the research questions I explore often straddle micro and macro boundaries. Social network analysis exists in the "meso" scale where individual motivations are impacted by the actions and beliefs of their friends and colleagues.
Let's say my interests cover four domains:
- Social Network Analysis / Theory
- Organizational Design / Change / Theory
- Text Analytics / Natural Language Processing
- Big Data / Machine learning / Statistics
Brokers and Information
My dissertation research focused how brokers in can leverage their network position to find and use diverse and novel information. Here is a drawing I came up with to explain the idea to my son when he was five years old. A broker is a person who has many "structural holes" in their network. A structural hole is gap in the flow of information. It gives the broker an opportunity for control. A broker can see novel recombinations of knowledge. In this case the broker knows the cheese people, the bread people, and the ham people. He then concocts the idea of the ham and cheese sandwich - a concept that didn't exist before the broker bridged the knowledge and put it all together.
See slides from the presentation at the North American Social Networks conference in 2017.
Mergers and Acquisitions
My dissertation took place in a organization undergoing a merger.