Social Capital

Social Capital

An Introduction to Managing Networks

Kenneth W. Koput

This volume teaches how to understand and manage social capital to facilitate individual and organizational learning and goal attainment. Coverage includes both orchestrating relationships of others and navigating one’s own social interactions. Written at an introductory level and accessible to those without background in network analysis or graph theory, this text combines both comprehensive analysis and concrete concepts to emphasize how critical a role social capital’s applications play on the foundations of business as we know it today.

Chapter 5: Obtaining data

Kenneth W. Koput

Subjects: business and management, human resource management

Extract

In this chapter, we discuss how to obtain data. As noted in Chapter 1, we collect the relational data by conducting a network survey. By this, we mean a population survey distributed to each and every member of the group or organization. The key here is that we need to ask each member to report their own social relations. Personal observation, in which we watch interactions, or interviewing one person, such as a boss, or a few members is subject to biases. By personally observing, we introduce our-selves into the social structure, and that may well alter interaction patterns. Interviewing the boss, for example, typically provides a structure skewed to look like what the formal structure is supposed to look like, rather than representing the actual social structure. The first step in conducting any survey is to construct the survey instrument. Doing so entails writing questions and presenting them in a suitable format. 5.1 Relational data: survey construction There are four principles to constructing the questions for a network survey to obtain data on informal, social relations in a formal group or organization: content, context, confidentiality, and convenience. These describe what you need to know or consider in developing your instrument. 5.1.a Content By this, we mean the content of exchange or activity in the relations. Recall that we also referred to this as the type of social tie. Following Krackhardt and Hanson (1993), this may appear straightforward, as they gave us three types of ties to use. If we...

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