Analyzing Work Teams Using Social Network Diagrams

Analyzing Work Teams Using Social Network Diagrams

Shalin Hai-Jew (Kansas State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5137-1.ch009
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Abstract

Workplace teams are a common social structure that enables the successful completion of collaborative projects. They have been studied as “hot” teams, virtual ones, and other manifestations. For both management and team members, it is helpful to have a form of meta-cognition on teams to solve work team issues pre-, during-, and post-project. One way to systematize understandings of a work team is to apply social network analysis to depict the work team’s power structure, its functions, and ways to improve the team’s communications for productivity, creativity, and effective functioning. This chapter depicts three real-world team-based projects as social network diagrams along with some light analysis. This work finds that social network diagrams may effectively shed light on the social dynamics of projects in the pre-, during-, and post-project phases.
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Literature Survey

Social network diagrams, which depict entities and relationships, have been used for over seven decades in sociology and related fields, to understand human interrelationships and larger systems. Sociometry, the application of quantitative metrics to social analysis, involves the study of relationships among people usually using quantitative tools. They are used to enhance decision-making in political science, public health, law enforcement, ecology, organizational development, and other fields.

In higher education, they have been used to analyze the depth of intercommunications among members of online courses; to connect those with shared “intellectual pedigrees” (academic influences); to analyze curricular contents, and to illuminate domain and cross-domain publications. Social network visualization technology has much wider potential in application to higher education in depicting the interrelationships on work teams that may enhance team member self-awareness, personnel management, and procedures.

The depiction of a social network diagram uses several essential elements. First are egos or nodes (a.k.a., actors, players, entities, vertexes), which represent individuals or groups in a social context. These egos or nodes are connected to each other through links (a.k.a., edges, lines), which depict the interrelationships in this network. The links may have arrows in a directed graph (“digraph”) or no arrows for a non-directed graph. Additional attributes may be defined for the various nodes and links. For example, if a node represents an individual, that individual’s demographic data, intellectual pedigree, workplace experience, or other aspects may be descriptors that help analysts understand how that individual may participate in the network. Further, link attributes may go beyond directionality to the amount of interactions between nodes (often depicted as link thickness or a link number).

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