Tag Archives: networks

Business Research at German Universities

The figures below display networks of relations between different fields of business research at public German universities. They visualize how the fields are connected to each other, which fields are stronger embedded and which are peripheral.

Altogether, 1.287 full professors are currently teaching and studying business at 78 institutions. I took their membership in scientific commissions at the German Association for Business Research (VHB) and, in case of no membership, information about their institutes or chairs to specify the fields of research. Each scholar may be affiliated to one or more of the following communities: 1) Banking and Finance, 2) Business Taxation, 3) Academic and Higher Education Management, 4) International Management, 5) Logistics, 6) Marketing, 7) Sustainability Management, 8) Public Business Administration, 9) Operations Research, 10) Organization, 11) Human Resources Management, 12) Production Management, 13) Accounting, 14) Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 15) Business Information Systems, 16) Philosophy of Science and Business Ethics.

The sixteen fields of business research are shown as nodes. The size of a node depends on the number of members in the respective commission. A tie between two nodes indicates a professor’s membership in both communities. Tie strength indicates the number of professors with co-memberships (the stronger the tie, the more co-memberships). The second network displays only ties with more than 10 co-memberships. It’s an arbitrary threshold to provide better visual interpretation.

The biggest community is Accounting (243 members), followed by Organization (229), and Marketing (200). The smallest fields are Academic and Higher Education Management (50) and Public Business Administration (77). It’s obvious that a functional focus is more common than object-oriented specializations. The strongest links exist between Organization and Human Resource Management (96 co-memberships), Production Management and Logistics (65), and Accounting and Business Taxation (61). The most embedded field of reserach is Organization, followed by Production Management. Surprisingly, the two object-oriented fields of Academic and Higher Education Management and Public Business Administration are at the periphery of the network, despite the fact that their operations likely involve most of the other functional areas.

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Some Details on the “RePort” Literature Database (Part II)

Let’s take a closer look at the scholars behind the publications. For that purpose, I’ve inverted the network from the last post . Now, vertices represent authors and a tie indicates a journal, in which both authors have published. The ties are stronger if both authors wrote several articles for the same journals. The size of a node represents the number of articles in our database from that particular author.

01_Authors-Net-TS-SourceAgain, we can identify our four clusters:1) Upper left: sociological studies 2) Upper right: organization and management studies 3) Lower left: research on higher education management and 4) Lower right: studies on technology transfer and science communication.

Now, a high betweenness centrality of an author indicates boundary spanning research by contributing to journals in different discourses. The authors with the highest betweenness are: 1 Cynthia Hardy (1350), 2 Loet Leydesdorff (723), 3 Ase Gornitzka (643), 4 Georg Krücken (627) and 5 Karl Weick (610). If an author has a high degree centrality (i.e. the node has many direct ties) he or she is well connected in terms of journal diversity. In contrast to the betweenness measure, diversity in this case most likely refers to journal diversity within a certain discourse. The top five authors according to degree centrality are: 1 Barbara Sporn (27), 2 Royston Greenwood (26), 3 Georg Krücken (24), 4 Dennis Gioia (22), 5 Christopher Hinnings (22).

Of course, the shown results are limited in terms of generalizability. The measures reflect only a part of the authors’ works and should not be interpreted as an indicator for performance. Besides, the network is only based on 68.6% (more like 40%, since I’ve removed quite some isolates) of all the publications that happend to find their way into our database, which, obviously, is pre-selected by subjective preferences for specific theories, contexts, and methods. However, the networks provide useful information about the foundations of our work at a glance. I wonder how the actual collaboration network looks like..

Some Details on the “RePort” Literature Database (Part I)

Over the past three years, we have gathered and sighted literature related to higher education governance and the organization of knowledge work. Now, it is time to open the black box and take a look into a good part of the research that our work is based on. In the RePort project, we’ve used Mendeley as a collaborative tool, which helped us to consolidate publications from the Leuphana and Hamburg teams.

Almost 1,400 authors contributed to 930 studies (avg. 1.5 authors per publication). The most common form of publication is journal articles (68.6%), followed by chapters in edited volumes (14.5%). Monographs (7.2%), working papers (4.8%), project reports (1.8%), dissertations (1.7%), and conference proceedings (1.4%) are of less importance.

00_Journals-Net-TS-SourceThe figure displays a network of related journals in our database. The journals are shown as nodes (the size depends on the number of articles in the respective journal). The authors are displayed as ties between the nodes. Two journals are connected if one author contributed an article to both journals. The tie strength indicates if more than one author has published in both journals. The resulting network displays denser clusters of stronger interrelated journals and structural holes with no author connecting the journals. We identify four clusters (three large and one small) in the network. They can be interpreted as outlets for four distinct groups of scholars.

1) Upper right: studies on technology transfer and science communication.
2) Upper left: research on higher education management.
3) Lower right: organization and management studies.
4) Lower left: sociological studies.

The most important journals in terms of betweenness centrality (i.e. the number of shortest paths from all nodes to all others that pass through that node) are: Academy of Management Review (401), Higher Education (327), Research Policy (227). These journals attract scholars from different discourses.

Note that the network only covers a small part of the database, since it only contains journal publications. Besides, a threshold was set for 2 authors. Journals with only one author contributing an article to another journal in the database or journals without a connecting author at all (“isolates”) were eliminated for better visualization.

Universities as Networks of Communication

Following the constructivist view means that communication constitutes organization. As my colleague Steffen Blaschke, together with Dennis Schoeneborn and David Seidl from University of Zurich, already stated in a recent article in Organization Studies, communication episodes among organizational actors may be fruitfully analyzed by applying network methodology.

Adopting this approach, we’ve just started to analyze datasets that were gathered during a comprehensive reorganization of administrative structures and processes at Hamburg University. To elaborate our understanding about the topics of interest in central (presidential offices), intermediate (school offices), and local (department offices) administrations, we study the data as two-mode networks of topics and actors. The below charts display the most centralized (1) and the most localized school (2) at Hamburg University. Blue nodes represent organizational levels (central, intermediate, local), red nodes represent topics (here: planning and strategy related issues). Issues that matter on one or more organizational levels are connected by verticies to the respective nodes.

CentralLocalThe full networks of communication will show which administrative issues matter for different organizational actors or, put differently, what content constitutes the three levels of administrative hierarchy. By contrasting the two extreme cases, we expect to identify administrative issues that may not be centralized easily and, in turn, issues that are difficult to localize.