Weak Ties and Value of a Network in the New Internet Economy

Weak Ties and Value of a Network in the New Internet Economy

Davide Di Fatta (University of Messina, Italy), Roberto Musotto (University of Messina, Italy), Vittorio D'Aleo (University of Messina, Italy), Walter Vesperi (University of Messina, Italy), Giacomo Morabito (University of Messina, Italy) and Salvatore Lo Bue (University of Messina, Italy)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0648-5.ch003
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Abstract

The rapid rise in internet economy is reflected in increased scholarly attention on the topic, with researchers increasingly exploring the marketing approaches and strategies now available through social media. The network provides a value for companies, thus becomes essential acquire greater awareness to evaluate and quantify its value. What are practical implications for managers? Social network analysis is nowadays an essential tool for researchers: the aim of this chapter is to extend the internet economy research to network theories. Today, there are emerging observations on the global internet economy, but there is a big gap in literature indeed. At first, literature focused on people. Now, on digitalized information. Firms are connected in a virtual network and there are undefined distances in terms of space and time. Traditional methods of analysis are no more efficient: to analyze the relationship in the network society, we need a different paradigm to approach network issue.
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Background

The necessary starting point is to introduce some insight about network theories. The issue has its origins in the studies of Granovetter who argued that, although the strong social ties could appear necessary to hold together a social system, in truth weak ties are crucial, specifically the so-called strength of weak ties (Granovetter 1973, 1983).

We assume a network of individuals (nodes) and friends (connections) that bind individuals: individuals within a group have, in fact, many elements connected to each other by generating a redundancy of strong ties. The disappearance of one of these links does not affect the interconnection between the network elements.

However, considering the system as social network (i.e. friendship), we realize that there are weak links between different groups of friends that hold it together: they work as a sort of bridge between social groups. The disappearance of one of these weak bonds would result in serious harm to the degree of connection of the system: indeed, these specific weak ties are known as social bridges. On social network websites, such as Facebook, most ties are weak and they are bridges between social group (De Meo et al., 2014).

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