Network Science 101

An Introduction to Network Science 101

Network science, the study of interconnections, provides a great deal of insight when it comes to collaboration. Ever-increasing partnerships between-cross sector organizations are taking on the network form, yet most fail to apply the lessons network science has taught us. 

To understand the critical perspective this field of study provides, consider the example of one of network science’s foundational theories: The Strength of Weak Ties. You can watch the video by our CEO, Dr. Danielle Varda, to the right, or keep reading about Network Science and Leadership below!

The Strength of Weak Ties & Network Strategy

The Strength of Weak Ties Infographic In 1973, the influential social scientist Mark S. Granovetter suggested something pretty contrary to popular belief. Following research on how people find jobs using their networks, he found that weak ties with acquaintances benefited people most with new connections and opportunities.

While we tend to build networks and partnerships with organizations and individuals we know well and trust, they also tend to think like us and share the same social circles. This limits the diversity of the network, undermining one of the key potential strengths of networks in the first place!

Understanding the Strength of Weak Ties helps us create networks with a more strategic mix of strong and weak ties. This ensures we are connected to partners, but in a way that promotes the generation of a diversity of new ideas and opportunities for the network.

How does this look in practice? We encourage networks to consider thoughtfully whether each tie they maintain is necessary. Creating subgroups, maintained through weak ties, ensures they an be activated when needed, without overloading the network. Make a point of connecting with unlikely or unexpected partners, who are more likely to share new knowledge, ideas or resources than those you already know well.  

Integrate Network Science into Your Strategy with the PARTNER Method

Through our research and evaluation experience with hundreds of networks, we’ve created a 5-step process for creating and adapting data-driven network strategies. With a foundation in network science principles rooted in our academic background, the method provides a framework for designing a strategy and then collecting data over time to learn and adapt. Do more with less and drive your impact with a network science strategy today.

Bringing Network Research to Practice

We’ve published extensively on topics like networks, collaboration, governance and more. However two studies stand out for their contribution to practitioners. The first introduced the core dimensions of connectivity we found through interviews and surveys. This included our validated scales for trust and value – the heart of our PARTNER Platform. The second uses a simulation to demonstrate how these kinds of network science metrics can be used for strategic management.