Social Networks in Organizations

Cite this article as:"Social Networks in Organizations," in The Business Professor, updated April 25, 2020, last accessed June 7, 2020,

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What is a Social Network within an Organization?

A social network can is a pattern of relationships between two or more actors. Generally, the actors share a common interest. This may be a personal interest (e.g. Sports) or professional interest (common employer). Actors include individuals, groups, and organizations themselves.

Social Networking is the process or activity directed toward becoming acquainted with or learning about other actors. These may be personal attributes (attitude, opinion) or professional attributes (skills, talents, knowledge, or preferences).

Each actor in a social network is also referred to as a “node”. A network tie is a connection or relationship (“link”) between actors or nodes.

Network ties can be grouped into:

  • Direct Ties – There is a single or personal link between two actors
  • Indirect Ties – An actor is tied to another actor only by a third actor.

A Tie can also be defined as:

  • Direction – A direct flow of information.
  • Bi-Directional – The backward and forward flow of information.

The number of links between the two actors is known as “degrees of separation”.

The network size is the number of actors.

Centrality is the extent to which an actor is in the middle of a network.

Density concerns how many people are connected within a network.

Social capital concerns the resources (ideas, information, money, trust, etc.) within personal and business networks.

Social Network Analysis is the evaluation, measuring, and mapping the relationships among actors in a social network.

Type of Social Network

Some common types of social network include:

  • communication network
  • information network
  • problem-solving network
  • knowledge network
  • access network

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