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I like to use both social network analysis and cultural domain analysis in three applied settings:

management consulting Innovation
public health (specifically hiv) Health Advocates
national security (terrorism) Key Players

Management

Network thinking lends itself to solving management problems. First, through empirical network analysis it is possible to make visible some of the otherwise intangible elements of organizations -- who is working with or against whom. For elaboration of these ideas, see this paper:

  • Cross, R., Parker, A., & Borgatti, S.P. 2002. Making Invisible Work Visible: Using Social Network Analysis to Support Strategic Collaboration. California Management Review. 44(2): 25-46. [pdf]

Second, a network perspective enables managers to manage through the informal networks of the organization, and to focus on strengthening organizational networks. For some thinking along those lines (particularly in the areas of innovation and leadership), see these papers:

  • Borgatti, S.P. 2005. Creating knowledge: Network structure and innovation. LINKS Center Essays. [html]
  • Borgatti, S.P. 2005. Facilitating knowledge flows. LINKS Center Essays. [html]
  • Borgatti, S.P. 2005. Selecting a team leader. LINKS Center Essays. [html]

Public Health

There are three key areas in public health that amenable to social network analysis. First, there is the area of containing epidemics due to infectious diseases. Second, there is the area of maximizing support for individuals coping with a disease or disability. Third, there is spread of attitudes and behavioral practices that promote health. For example of the latter, see this paper:

  • Weeks, M.R., Clair, S., Borgatti, S.P., Radda, K., and Schensul, J.J. 2002. Social networks of drug users in high risk sites: Finding the connections. AIDS and Behavior 6(2): 193-206. [pdf]

National Security

One issue in criminology and national security is the identification of key individuals in relation to each of the following goals: (a) disrupting the criminal network by removing them, (b) learning about the network's operations through surveiling them, and (c) influencing the network by disseminating information/attitudes through them. For information on this idea, see these papers:


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Copyright 2008 Steve Borgatti. Last modified: 12/23/11