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APLP Alumni - Social Network Analysis
Making the “Invisible” Visible - Social Network Analysis and the APLP Alumni Network

 

Four years and 160 alumni later what does the APLP community look like?

 

The APLP is launching a major research project attempting to map and understand the strengths and weaknesses of our growing network of alumni. The APLP participants of 2005-2006 are exploring the field of Social Network Analysis (SNA) in their studies this year and linking this work to a wider study of alumni interaction.

 

A group of volunteers from the current class is working on this project in order to strengthen the utility of the alumni community to all of its members. The results of this study will be distributed to all participants and will be presented (along with strategies for enhancing community strength) at the APLP alumni reunion in Vietnam in early December 2006.

 

What is Social Network Analysis?

 

Social Network Analysis (SNA) is a process whereby a visual and statistical portrait is drawn of the linkages which hold a community together. This “portrait” is created by inputing information (such as communication patterns and individual attributes) into a grid-matrix so that SNA software can read the nature of linkages across the group. For example, analysis can identify the density of communications, barriers to communications, the formation of subgroups or how effectively information moves through the community. The resultant data can be used to enhance community information sharing and access to resources.

 

Once the SNA software has processed the information, a graphic representation of the network can be produced (see below for example). This network is then analyzed to understand its structure so that individual components of the network can better understand the way in which the group interacts.

 


Figure 1. Main Linkages After Orientation – APLP Class of 2005-2006

 

Social Network Analysis and You:

 

 Why analyze the APLP Alumni network? Network analysis is based on the notion that social patterns of interaction are important features of individual lives and to the strengthening of communities or organizations. These patterns rely on how an individual is connected into a larger web of social relations. Many network analysts believe that the success or failure of societies and organizations often depends on the patterns of connectivity.

By creating a visual and statistical picture of the APLP alumni network, it will be possible to create new alumni programs, strengthening the network of support for all community members.

 

For further information about SNA and our networked world, please read the following material.

 

For a more complete definition of the study of social networks, click on the International Network of Social Analysis website: http://www.insna.org/INSNA/na_inf.html

 

Articles:

 

· For a brief and readable summary of the uses and importance of Social Network Analysis please see http://www.well.com/~art/s+b42002cm.html

 

Books:

 

  • “The Hidden Power of Social Networks: Understanding How Work Really Gets Done in Organizations”by Rob Cross and Andrew Parker (Harvard Business School 2004)
  • "Social Network Analysis: A Handbook" by John Scott (Sage Publications 2003)
  • "Social Network Analysis Methods and Applications" by Stanley Wasserman and Katherine Faust (Cambridge University Press 1994)

 


If Social Network Analysis is interesting to you and you would like to contribute to or get involved in our APLP mapping project please contact APLP Alumnus Eric Hanson at hansone@aplp.eastwestcenter.org.

 

More information coming soon…

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