Onceptual, theoretically driven essay. Subject: Social Networks

The conceptual essay must be comprehensive and original in analysis and accurately grounded in extant theory and literature, and must convey a clear message. It may include theoretical syntheses, the proposal of new and exploratory conceptual models, theoretically grounded discussions of methodology, the analysis of historical developments with clear implications for current and future theory, theoretically relevant discussions of timely and important network issues, and comprehensive literature reviews with strong theoretical implications.


Choose one of the following titles:

1. Critically assess, compare and contrast the random network and the  scale-free network proposed by Barabasi and Albert. With the aid of examples, discuss whether and the degree to which these models offer an accurate representation of real-world networks.

2. In the social sciences, scholars seem to agree on the importance of network structure, but disagree on the relative benefits of opposite types of structures. Some regard closed network structures (cohesion) as the source of social capital; others have argued in favour of the benefits of open network structures (brokerage). With the aid of examples, critically assess, compare and contrast the network mechanisms underpinning these (apparently) opposing views of social capital.

3. With the aid of examples and by drawing on relevant network models and theories, assess, compare and contrast the main forms of inter-organisational networks. Building on, and integrating, relevant contributions in the literature, critically evaluate the relative impact of these network forms on organisations performance.

4. The experiment that Stanley Milgram conducted in the 1960s provided empirical evidence in favour of what is now referred to as the  small-world effect , namely the fact that the average geodesic distance is small even for very large networks. Critically discuss Milgram s experiment, and assess the extent to which the small-world effect can be found in a random network, in the Barabasi-Albert scale-free network, and in the Watts-Strogatz small-world network.

5. By drawing on relevant network models and theories, critically assess the mechanisms that drive the evolution of networks over time. Discuss the implications of these mechanisms in terms of real-world processes, such as, for example, disease spread, opinion dynamics, the diffusion of computer viruses, and viral marketing.

Depending on the selected subject, you should be able to:
” start up or redirect a line of inquiry;
” draw upon multiple disciplines;
” employ diverse methods, including qualitative, field, survey, archival, laboratory and computational methods;
” focus on different kinds of networks including acquaintance networks, co-authorship networks, interand intra-organizational networks;
” make a theoretical contribution;
” provide new empirical findings;
” achieve genuine integration of theory and data;
” provide a theoretically-driven review and integration of an important research area;

Project Format:

The project must be word processed or typed on A4 paper, double-spaced, 11-point font, with 1-inch margins all around.

Pages must be sequentially numbered.

Sections and sub-sections must be clearly identified and sequentially numbered

The project must include:

- The title
- Name of author(s) with email address(es)
- An abstract (up to 200 words): The abstract should summarize the paper and conveying its broader implications and be devoid of mathematical symbols, acronyms, citations, or technical jargon.
- Keywords (up to five)
- An introduction
- A final section with a critical discussion of the main findings
- Bibliography

Assessment:
Overall assessment will be based upon:
- Problem identification
- Critical analysis of theoretical background
- Data collection (where applicable)
- Methods (where applicable)
- Analysis and evaluation of results
- Conclusions
- Organisation, style and presentation
- References
References cited in the text should be listed alphabetically by author at the end of the
paper, beginning on a separate page headed References.

References should be double-spaced and presented in this format:

Journal Article
Flynn, J., S. Gartska. 1990. A dynamic inventory model with periodic auditing. Operations Research 38(6) 1089-1103.
Garvin, David A. 1987. Competing on the eight dimensions of quality. Harvard Business Review 65(Nov-Dec) 101-117.

Book
Lilien, G.L., A. Rangaswamy. 1998. Marketing Engineering: ComputerAssisted Marketing Analysis and Planning. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 67-84.

Edited Book
Martello, S., P. Toth. 1979. The 0-1 knapsack problem. N. Christofides, A. Mingozzi, C. Sandi, eds. Combinatorial Optimization. John Wiley and Sons, New York, 237 279.

Conference Proceedings
Hill, R.R. 1996. An analytical comparison of optimization problem generation methodologies. D.J. Medeiros, E.F. Watson, J.S. Carson, M.S. Manivannan, eds. Proceedings of the 1998 Winter Simulation Conference, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Washington, D.C., 609-615.

Unpublished Reports
Johnson, R.D., G.M. Marakas. 1999. The role of behavioral modeling in computer skills acquisition: Toward refinement of the model. Information Systems Research, Forthcoming.


Designate citations throughout the text by the authors surname and the year of the reference, e.g., (Johnson, 1993).

Avoid references to unpublished works and websites.

Tables and figures should be numbered consecutively and incorporated into the project. Tables and figures should complement arguments presented in the text.

Endnotes and footnotes should be kept to a minimum. If the note is necessary, it should be indicated in the text.