Des poissons et des mares : l’analyse de réseaux multi-niveaux

Abstract : This article proposes a neo-structural approach to the multi-level dimension of organizational and social life. Our study explores multi-level networks that observe two systems of superposed and partially interlocked interdependencies, the first being inter-organizational, the second interindividual. We propose a method of structural linked design as an articulation for these levels. The method is composed of two major steps: first, we separately examine the complete networks at the two different levels. Second, we articulate the two networks in relation to one another using systematic information about the membership of each individual in the first network (interindividual) to one of the organizations in the second network (inter-organizational). This dual positioning, or the linked design approach, is carried out in an empirical study examining performance variations within the “elite” of French cancer research in 1999. By looking at measures of centrality, we identify the actors that these top researchers consider as central or peripheral at the inter-individual level (the big and the little fish among the elite), and the laboratories that the research directors consider as central or peripheral at the inter-organizational level (the big and the little ponds among all the laboratories conducting cancer research in France at that time). In addition to the rather trivial report of the competitive advantage of big fish in big ponds (particularly because of the advantage of size for laboratories in this domain of research), we use measurements of scientific performance to identify “catching up” strategies that the smallest fish use in this system. We suggest that this method offers new insights into the multilevel dimension of complex systems of interdependencies, and also into the way in which actors manage these interdependencies. We believe that this understanding adds a new dimension to the sociological exploration of the determinants of performance, of meso-level phenomena such as institutional change, or macro-level phenomena such as social inequalities.
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Emmanuel Lazega, Marie-Thérèse Jourda, Lise Mounier, Rafaël Stofer. Des poissons et des mares : l’analyse de réseaux multi-niveaux. Revue française de sociologie, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 2007, 48 (1), pp.93 - 131. ⟨hal-01719433v2⟩

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