Network Centrality: Understanding Degree, Closeness & Betweenness Centrality

Network Centrality

Network centrality is among the most well-known social network analysis metrics, measuring the degree to which a person or organization is central to a network. There are three different ways to measure network centrality, and some are easier to understand than others. Centrality is a helpful measure for identifying key players in a network. Depending on the specific measure used, centrality means a network is directly connected to many others (degree centrality), close to many others indirectly (closeness centrality), or serve as a key broker between many other nodes (betweenness centrality).

A highly centralized network is one in which a small number of people or organizations have a larger than proportional share of the connections. The measure viewed in this way is a helpful tool for thinking about power and equity in a network, in terms of how the network is structurally built. Do a few organizations serve as a central hub, with outsized influence, or is the network decentralized, with more equal access to the network’s resources and information? It all depends on your network’s unique context, history and goals.

Learn more about network centrality and the three different ways we measure it using PARTNER with our infographic below.

Network Centrality

Want to learn more about network centrality and other social network analysis metrics and measures? Visit our Network Leadership Resource Library to see blogs, webinars and other infographics on this very important network leadership topic. You can also share a comment below with the VNL community to add your thoughts on the subject.

Measure Network Centrality Among Your Community Partners

Network centrality is an essential metric in network science. It helps us understand the position of an organization within the larger network and identify the most important members of the network (there are several kinds of centrality, depending on how you define ‘important’)

For example, consider a coalition addressing tobacco use in the local community by disseminating best practices and evidence-based interventions. They could use closeness and betweenness centrality to identify the members of their network best suited to share information rapidly throughout the community. Alternatively, if they are seeking new leadership committee members, they might use degree centrality to identify community partners who know the most people within the network. 

The key to using network centrality is asking what’s important to your network members, and using the appropriate sub-measure to capture what matters. PARTNER CPRM, a Community Partner Relationship Management system,  uses social network analysis and relationship mapping to make invisible networks visible, with metrics including network centrality, trust and value, power and influence, agreement/disagreement, and more. 

Get started with a web demo to see and learn more.

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