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Network Analysis for Economics and Management Studies

Network Analysis for Economics and Management Studies
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Author(s): Lucio Biggiero (University of L'Aquila, Italy & CIRPS, Italy)
Copyright: 2016
Pages: 60
Source title: Relational Methodologies and Epistemology in Economics and Management Sciences
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Lucio Biggiero (Università dell’ Aquila, Italy), Pier Paolo Angelini (Interuniversity Research Centre for Sustainable Development (CIRPS), Italy), Mario Basevi (Italian National Institute of Statistics, Italy), Nunzia Carbonara (Politecnico di Bari, Italy), Antonio Mastrogiorgio (Interuniversity Research Centre for Sustainable Development (CIRPS), Italy), Eliano Pessa (University of Pavia, Italy), Enrico Sevi (Università dell’ Aquila, Italy) and Marco Valente (Università dell’ Aquila, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9770-6.ch001

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Abstract

Sociology and other social sciences have employed network analysis earlier than management and organization sciences, and much earlier than economics, which has been the last one to systematically adopt it. Nevertheless, the development of network economics during last 15 years has been massive, alongside three main research streams: strategic formation network modeling, (mostly descriptive) analysis of real economic networks, and optimization methods of economic networks. The main reason why this enthusiastic and rapidly diffused interest of economists came so late is that the most essential network properties, like externalities, endogenous change processes, and nonlinear propagation processes, definitely prevent the possibility to build a general – and indeed even partial – competitive equilibrium theory. For this paradigm has dominated economics in the last century, this incompatibility operated as a hard brake, and presented network analysis as an inappropriate epistemology. Further, being intrinsically (and often, until recent times, also radically) structuralist, social network analysis was also antithetic to radical methodological individualism, which was – and still is – economics dominant methodology. Though culturally and scientifically influenced by economists in some fields, like finance, banking and industry studies, scholars in management and organization sciences were free from “neoclassical economics chains”, and therefore more ready and open to adopt the methodology and epistemology of social network analysis. The main and early field through which its methods were channeled was the sociology of organizations, and in particular group structure and communication, because this is a research area largely overlapped between sociology and management studies. Currently, network analysis is becoming more and more diffused within management and organization sciences. Mostly descriptive until 15 years ago, all the fields of social network analysis have a great opportunity of enriching and developing its methods of investigation through statistical network modeling, which offers the possibility to develop, respectively, network formation and network dynamics models. They are a good compromise between the much more powerful agent-based simulation models and the usually descriptive (or poorly analytical) methods.

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