Social Networks and Information Systems: Ongoing and Future Research Streams

By Oinas-Kukkonen, Harri; Lyytinen, Kalle et al. | Journal of the Association for Information Systems, February 2010 | Go to article overview

Social Networks and Information Systems: Ongoing and Future Research Streams


Oinas-Kukkonen, Harri, Lyytinen, Kalle, Yoo, Youngjin, Journal of the Association for Information Systems


Abstract

We review reasons for the increased interest in network analyses in organization studies and information research. We also note the impact of new information technology capabilities for this increase in terms of improvements in analysis techniques, new ways to generate and maintain connections within and between social units, and new social connection-focused IT capabilities. We also review main streams of network-based analyses in information system research. We conclude by making some propositions for future research in information systems and networks, and summarize the main contributions made in this special issue.

Keywords: networks, network analysis, information technology, research challenges

1. Introduction

Social networks provide a simple yet powerful abstraction for social scientists that can represent almost any type of human interaction or connection, including its structure and dynamics. Social network analysts observe a social world consisting of nodes (social or other types of units like persons, teams, organizations, or their combinations) and ties among them (connections like communications, dependence, or vicinity). These relatively simple discrete "ontologies" offer a surprisingly fruitful way to analyze how social formations organize, change, and grow. By focusing on networks, social scientists can explain: a) the observed structure of social formations and b) how the structure affects other critical traits of social units or formations such as their rate of innovation, change, performance, or operational failures.

Empirical studies over the last 40 years have resulted in multiple theories of networks and a rich corpus of data and empirics (Barabasi 2003; Christakis and Fowler 2009; Monge and Contractor 2003; Nohria and Eccles 1992; Shapiro and Varian 1999). At the same time, new powerful computational methods have become an indispensable research tool helping scientists to conduct increasingly complex network analyses (Wasserman and Faust 1994; Lazer et al. 2009). These analyses provide the unprecedented ability to trace, visualize, analyze, explain, and simulate the structures and behaviors of social networks (Agarwal et al. 2008; Lazer et al. 2009). Recently, webbased collaborative software has generated new forms and modalities of interactions that are fundamentally re-shaping the structure of existing social formations while at the same time creating new ones. Not surprisingly, a growing stream of research on social networks has, therefore, been devoted to the design and uses of information technology in social contexts and their impacts on organizations (Agarwal et al. 2008; Wasko and Faraj 2005), as well as how they shape end-user behaviors (Fogg and Iizawa 2008; Steiny 2009; Oinas-Kukkonen and Harjumaa 2009).

Social networks are a rapidly growing research area for information system scholars. Social network analysis, or more broadly network analysis, provides a rich, rigorous, and systematic means for IS scholars to assess networks and their structure as organized or enabled by various information systems. In this way scholars can map and analyze relationships generated by IT artifacts among people, teams, departments, organizations, or even geographical regions or markets (Cross et al. 2001; Lazer et al. 2009). Web-based services, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, also convey new means to render interpersonal relationships more transparent and traceable, and allow researchers to study how such information is being deployed by social agents. Users can now connect with ease to their friends and business acquaintances and keep them aware of their activities. As a result, they can now probe for others in the same networks based on queries like "who knows someone who knows someone who knows the person."

Even though studies on social networks have been conducted in fields like sociology and anthropology for decades, recent developments in web and related real-time collaboration tools provide a rich and unprecedented opportunity to re-examine some assumptions and findings concerning the structure and behavior of social networks.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Social Networks and Information Systems: Ongoing and Future Research Streams
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.