2021-2022 Schedule


Friday, February 25, 2022
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Dr. David Krackhardt
Professor of Organizations, Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, with a joint appointment at the Tepper School of Business

Title: The Power of Simmelian Decomposition of Social Networks

In the pursuit of understanding how people behave in organizations, scholars frequently underscore the importance of relationships that they develop in the organization. Strong positive relationships are seen as providing trust that enables cooperation; they are seen as vehicles for influence and political behavior; and, they are conduits for information flow and innovation throughout the organization.  Simmel's work suggests that this reliance on strong dyadic ties is misplaced.  In Simmel's view, it is the triadic context in which the tie happens that makes a difference, not the tie itself. I will discuss a decade's worth of work on Simmelian ties to argue that much of the traditional research on networks in organizations leads to faulty reasoning and conclusions, because the theories do not account for these Simmelian ties.

David Krackhardt is Professor of Organizations at the Heinz College and the Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, with courtesy appointments in Social and Decision Sciences Department and the School of Computer Science. Prior appointments include faculty positions at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management, the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business, INSEAD (France), the Harvard Business School, and Stanford’s School of Industrial Engineering. He received a BS degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a PhD from the University of California, Irvine.

Over the past 40 years, his research has focused on how the theoretical insights and methodological innovations of network analysis can enhance our understanding of how organizations function. He pioneered the concept of "cognitive social structures" and has empirically related these perceived structures to organizational change, performance, reputations, adaptability and power in organizations. He developed a set of indicators that evaluate the shape and character of the organization as a whole, including the E-I Index, which has been shown to predict the organization’s ability to respond to major changes and crises. He has led the development of many pioneering concepts and measures in the field, including the Transitivity Correlation and the four Graph Theoretic Dimensions used in many software tools to break down and understand organizational network structures. Moreover, he has developed statistical and methodological tools, including KrackPlot, one of the first network visualization packages. He developed the Quadratic Assignment Procedure to test hypotheses in models of network data. His current research agenda includes creating models of diffusion of controversial innovations, identifying effective leverage points for organizational adaptability and change, and exploring the roles of Simmelian ties in organizations. His published works, which at this point have been cited over 30,000 times (per Google Scholar), have appeared in the top journals in the fields of psychology, sociology, anthropology, statistics, and management. He has served on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management JournalAdministrative Science Quarterly, and Network Science, and is the founding editor of INSNA’s online outlet, the Journal of Social Structure