From June 22-July 10, the LINKS Center at the University of Kentucky offered a synchronous, online version of its annual summer workshop on social network analysis. According to management department chair Dr. Steve Borgatti, “This year was very successful, both in terms of attracting participants and in terms of how they liked it.” The workshop attracted 107 participants from all over the world with research interests in a wide range of fields including management, public health, history, and criminology.
"When we refer to social networks, we don’t mean Facebook, we mean the pattern of who talks to whom at work, or who is friends with whom," Borgatti explained. "Typically, in management research we collect this data via a survey of everyone in some part of the organization, such as everyone who works in Gatton. When we represent these relationships as a network, we can see the effects of structure and position."
There are various reasons why relationships are studied in this way, he says. "One is that people influence each other. If I see you using a virtual background in zoom, I might start doing it too, which in turn will influence someone else that I zoom with, and pretty soon there is an 'epidemic' of virtual background use. This applies to all kinds of things, including work enthusiasm, job satisfaction, courteousness - you name it."
Another reason is that people depend on each other. "My ability to do my job is in part a function of the quality of my relationships with others at work. If people don’t like me, I won’t get as much help and cooperation from others."
Attendees in other time zones demonstrated “true dedication to the cause” with some beginning their days at 6:30 a.m. (California), and others finishing at 7:30 a.m. (New Zealand) or 3:30 a.m. (China).
Despite the new format, time differences, and wide variety of disciplines represented, the workshop was very well received with an average satisfaction of 4.9 out of 5. Participants were also asked how likely they might be to attend another LINKS workshop, and 92 percent responded positively, including 53 percent who indicated it was “extremely likely”.
Said Borgatti, “I thank our extremely hard-working (and brave!) TAs, as well as our world-class instructors.”