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Analysing Multiple Types of Connections within a Network. Dave Griffiths University of Stirling 18 th September 2009. What do networks attempt to measure? Limitations in knowing what to analyse Limitations in researching elites

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analysing multiple types of connections within a network

Analysing Multiple Types of Connections within a Network

Dave Griffiths

University of Stirling

18th September 2009


What do networks attempt to measure?

  • Limitations in knowing what to analyse
  • Limitations in researching elites
  • Methods available for understanding structure across spheres of influence
network analysis analyses networks
Network analysis analyses networks
  • Network theory is about analysing ties between actors
  • How we define ‘ties’ determines the meaning we generate
  • In many situations, there are multiple types of ‘ties’ available * school friends – classroom, lunchtime or at home
  • How do we prioritise what types of ties are important?
problem within elites research
Problem within Elites research
  • Researching elites and power an important sociological concept
  • Useem’s (1984) Inner Circle details how controlling elites know each other
  • How do we define how people ‘know’ each other?* mutual board memberships mask personality clashes* clubs not always frequented* who knows who is invited to each others homes
  • Data we hold might be misleading; most relevant data unobtainable
problem with interlocking directorates
Problem with interlocking directorates
  • We regard two companies as well-connected if they hold a mutual board member
  • We analyse the network of companies connected by mutual board members
  • Bart’s (1982) Structural Hole theory suggests connections between boards facilitated by one individual are not well-connected
  • Therefore, do mutual board membership ties tell us much about how information can flow through boards of governance?
  • Does information only flow through board meetings?
research question
Research question
  • How do we analyse various modes of relationships between actors, without drowning in data?
  • Which types of ties do we focus upon, and which can be ignored?
  • How do you measure the centre of a network when it alters under every type of tie studied?
  • Data collected on 187 UK quangos* more specifically, on their 2,858 directors
  • All information published by quangos and biographical directories coded, including* school and university attended* corporate and charitable directorships* employers* memberships of professional associations and private clubs* institutions awarding honorary degrees
  • Data coded as whether present (as of 01/01/07) or previous
  • 27 different networks constructed linking quangos through these assorted ‘ties’
  • Density of networks ranged from .04 to .54
more manageable networks
More manageable networks





what do we analyse
What do we analyse?
  • Multiple levels of connections between quangos
  • Different descriptions lead to important network differences occuring
  • Therefore, research question needs to contextualise what types of connections we measure
  • When we are studying elites and connections, however, all potential ties are important in their own ways
  • A method of identifying the most important types of ties is important
identifying the most central organisation
Identifying the most central organisation
  • Component analysis = how many times an institution appears in the largest component
  • Core analysis = how many times an institution appears in the tightest core of the network
  • Therefore, which quangos are consistently in the best positions, and which are consistently in the worse?
most connected quangos
Most connected quangos
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council; Audit Commission; Bank of England; BBC; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; British Council; British Museum; Channel 4; Culture North West; Economic and Social Research Council; English Heritage; English Partnership; Environment Agency; Health Protection Agency; Heritage Lottery Fund; Higher Education Funding Council; Historic Royal Palaces; Imperial War Museum; Learning and Skills Council; Medical Research Council; National Consumer Council; National Maritime Museum; National Museum of Science and Industry; National Museums Liverpool; National Portrait Gallery; Natural Environment Research Council; North West Development Agency; Northern Lighthouse Board; Nuclear Decommissioning Authority; Qualifications and Curriculum Authority; Quality Improvement Agency; Royal Botanic Gardens Kew; Tate; Victoria and Albert Museum; VisitBritain
least connected quangos
Least connected quangos
  • Agricultural Wages Board; British Potato Council; British Shipbuilders; Commission for Patient And Public Involvement; Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority; Culture South West; Energywatch; Engineering Construction Industry Training Board; Firebuy; Football Licensing Authority; Home-Grown Cereals Authority; Horticultural Development Council; Independent Living Funds; Investors in People; LEASE; Living East; Meat and Livestock Commission; Milk Development Council; Oil and Pipelines Agency; Office of the Children’s Commissioner; Parole Board; Partnerships for Schools; Public Lending Right; Remploy; Royal Marines Museum; Royal Navy Submarine Museum; S4C; Security Industry Authority; Stonebridge HAT; Tote; Trinity House; Valuation Tribunal Service.
central narrative
Central narrative
  • Corporate interests lowly prioritised within quango networks
  • Little evidence of occupancy of multiple quango boards
  • Consistency amongst other indicators of social connections between directors
  • Ties to the cultural elite creates connections
  • Multiple types of interest important; strongly bonding to one type lessens network position
  • Empirical meaning can be gathered from exploring the full range of potential connections between actors
  • Analysing the differences between networks in terms of impact of degree on centrality can identify which types of connections are atypical
  • If consistent structures can be observed, you can start to create your narrative of what is occurring