Recognizing Innovation through Social Network Analysis: The Case of the Virtual eBMS Project

Recognizing Innovation through Social Network Analysis: The Case of the Virtual eBMS Project

Grippa Francesca (University of Salento, Italy) and Elia Gianluca (University of Salento, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-701-0.ch017
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Abstract

Advances in communication technologies have enabled organizations to develop and operate decentralized organizational structures by supporting coordination among workers in different locations. Such developments have lessened formality in control structures and replaced formal channels of communication with less formal social networks. The chapter describes the development and application of a ‘Social Network Scorecard’ (SNS) managerial tool to monitor social interchanges and relationships within and across organizations in order to assess the effectiveness of knowledge networks. In this chapter, a project team made up of individuals from academia and industry collaboratively implemented an integrated technological platform for KM, e-Learning, e-Business, and project management disciplines in a higher education environment. This VeBMS platform, consisting of a collaborative working environment within the University of Salento, Italy, was used as a ‘test bed’ to evaluate the validity of the scorecard in practice. The chapter describes how the SNS tool can help in monitoring the evolution of an organizational community, recognizing creative roles and initiatives, and tracing the connections between such initiatives and innovative outcomes. Looking at trends at individual, team, inter-organizational, and organizational levels, researchers identified the most innovative phases within the team’s life cycle using network indicators like density and degree centrality. The SNS provided feedback on the effectiveness of the team and helped discover the phases in which the team acted in a manner conducive to innovation. The Virtual eBMS project team followed the typical structure of an innovative knowledge network where learning networks and innovation networks co-exist with a more sparse interest network.
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Literature Review

Within the aim of this chapter, we focus our literature review on three interdependent domains related to innovation management field: the knowledge management systems (KMS), the intellectual capital management (ICM) and the Social Network Analysis (SNA). These three research fields are briefly presented and introduced by highlighting the concept of “relation” as a key success factor for creating value.

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