Social Networks : Bandwidth & Echo: Trust, Information and Gossip in Social Networks

Ronald S. Burt is the Hobart W. Williams Professor of Sociology and Strategy at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He is the author of "Brokerage and Closure" (2005), and you can download many other papers and presentations from his website.

Paper introduction:

"There are two schools of thought on how network structures create the competitive advantage known as social capital. One school focuses on the advantages of closure. A network is closed to the extent that people in it are connected by strong relationships. Typical forms of closure are dense networks in which everyone is connected to everyone else, and hierarchical networks in which people are connected through mutual relationships with a few leaders at the center of the network.

Closure lowers the risk of trust, and so facilitates collaborative efforts that require trust.

A second school of thought focuses on the advantages of brokerage. Markets and organizations are assumed to to be a network of interdependent groups in which information flows at higher velocity within than between groups, such that seperate groups come to know about different things. Boundaries between groups define holes in social structure - "structural holes".

Brokerage across structural holes is an advantage for detecting and developing new ideas synthezised across disconnected pools of information."

Click here to download the Acrobat file

copyright 2000-2001 Ronald S. Burt

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