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SNA (Social Network Analysis) - analiza sieci społecznych more
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Episteme managers

Application in research

Social networks analysis was set up as is a research tool used for scientific purposes. Together with making the method more and more popular, the academic society did not express a negative opinion concerning the method. It is still an important tool used in social science, anthropology, political science, management, organization research, internet studies, as well as medical and forensic sciences. One of the classic examples of the SNA application in research studies are John F. Padgett's elite and the structure of medieval Florence (1282-1500). In his studies, using the SNA and using historical data, Padgett analyzed family ties as well as economic and political relations between the families (clans) of medieval Florence. In this way, the network perspective has restored political and economic mechanisms that allowed individual families to play an important role in medieval Florence.
Another classic example of the SNA application is a study conducted by Galaskiewicz, which was concerned with links between 26 executive directors consisting of memberships in 15 clubs and other bodies. On the basis of the so-called affiliate network, the study examined the links between the businessmen as well as between the clubs due to the structure of membership.
The network nature of social relationships has also been used in a famous experiment, Milgram Stanley's "rejecting six steps" (or "six handshakes"), who allowed the author to prove that any two people are apart from each other at the so-called average distance, six steps. The experiment was based on a task given to randomly chosen people. They were given a parcel which had to be delivered to the addressee through the chain of friends.. Milgram's experiment allowed to formulate the concept of the "small world" phenomenon. Indeed, he proved that, despite the fact that each person has a very limited number of friends, thanks to 'friends of their friends', each next person can reach most remote inhabitants of the globe, letting us see the world as a unique social network with a relatively small average distance between the nodes . Discovered in the 1960s, Milgram's "rule of six steps" found its practical applications including the creation of social networking sites. The experiment, employing the possibilities offered by new technologies, has been repeated by many researchers, also in Poland, where it was done among the population of Gadu Gadu chat system users.
An example of a modern application of the SNA analysis is one proposed by the best known researcher in the SNA field, Valdis E. Krebs, who, on the basis of published press reports, reconstructed and then analyzed the Al Qaeda terrorist network. The network was linked to the terrorists who were directly involved in the attacks of September 11, 2001. His analysis of the related observations is an important contribution to the study of contemporary terrorism.
Another interesting example of using SNA in research is a project carried out by researchers at the University of Minnesota (David Knok, Song Yang and Francisco J. Granados), who decided to analyze the strategic alliances entered into in the period 1989-2000 by the world's IT sector. The SNA method was used as the main research tool, and helped trace the changing alliances between the major stakeholders of the industry and indicate the major and most active companies joining strategic alliances.
Currently, SNA is increasingly being used in web research. In this context, this method appears as a research tool in the study of the so-called semantic networks, social networking sites, virtual communities of practice and peer to peer communication. The development of the Internet is an important factor stimulating popularization of the SNA, which naturally becomes an important tool for investigating the network structure of this medium.
Used in business
As mentioned above, due to the development of relevant software, social network analysis is no longer only a research tool and has been noticed, and sometimes used, by consulting firms, which use the SNA in areas such as internal communication, knowledge management and analysis of the relationship of market operators. In these areas, where the reality reflects the network structure, SNA allows to interpret the complicated structures of relations. This provides interesting material which supports the management process..
Local and internal communications and the strongly related issue of knowledge management are a classic fields for using SNA in business. There are different types of relationships (such as communication, belonging to communities of practice, or cooperation) that occur between members of an organization (usually all or selected employees of the company). Results of the study (audit) then let one implement solutions to improve internal communication in different cross-sections (e.g. vertical and horizontal communication), as well as stimulate learning in the organization. Thus, the SNA is an important tool for supporting the process of managing the organization in these areas.
SNA is also a great tool that permits analysis of the many links between market participants. In this case, the subject of the study are external rather than internal relations of an organization. Studies of this type include capital ties, strategic alliances, commercial relationships or even personal ties between competitors in the market. This multi-level analysis can be used to better understand the functioning of the market, make strategic business decisions, select the potential partners to enter into a strategic alliance, or find key experts with most knowledge and experience in the particular area. Thus, SNA is an important tool to assist the process of strategic management.
This method is also successfully used in studies of the dynamics of Web 2.0 services development. A frequent subject of research is in this case the interaction between users, who are largely responsible for creating content. The results of such studies are a valuable source of information for design and development of these services as well as marketing agencies, which can directly reach the most influential members in the network.
In addition to these examples, SNA is also used as a research tool in support of public relations as well as lobbying. Dynamic development and the universal nature of SNA in 2006 was recognized by Gartner, who placed it on the list of tools that will have the greatest impact on the economy in ten years.

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