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Sep. 19: The Micro-Dynamics of Network Leverage: Implications for Change Agents External to an Organization

  • 509 Knox Hall | Columbia University 606 West 122nd Street New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)

The Micro-Dynamics of Network Leverage: Implications for Change Agents External to an Organization


1. The speaker has shared two papers (links below) that will be discussed during this presentation: The Micro-Dynamics of Network Leverage: Implications for Change Agents External to an Organization; and The Social Dynamics of Group Polarization during Diffusion.

2. If you are interested in understanding the technical details of using the Netlogo modules to run agent-based models, then please let us know. The speaker's co-author Ran Xu has kindly offered to go through these modules following the presentation.**

WHEN: Tuesday, September 19th, 2017, 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.

WHERE: Knox Hall 509, 606 W 122nd Street

Much of the impact of a policy depends on how it is implemented, especially as mediated by organizations such as schools or hospitals. Furthermore, implementation depends on each organization’s capacity to absorb innovations. Here we extend the concept of absorptive capacity to include the intra-organizational network dynamics that occur during the implementation of an innovation. In particular, we hypothesize the potential for intra-organizational polarization that is especially likely to occur when an organization is highly salient to its members. Using agent-based models we find that when organizational members are salient to one another, external change agents who attempt to direct organizations by introducing strongly oriented venues (e.g., professional development emphasizing specific teaching practices) may unintentionally contribute to polarization in the organizational network, inhibiting full implementation of the immediate innovation as well as reducing organizational capacity to implement future innovations. Thus the external change agent should consider the short term interaction with the intra-organizational network dynamics as part of the organization’s longer term absorptive capacity.

Kenneth Frank received his Ph.D. in measurement, evaluation and statistical analysis from the School of Education at the University of Chicago in 1993.  He is currently a professor in Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education as well as in Fisheries and Wildlife and adjunct in Sociology at Michigan State University.  His substantive interests include the study of schools as social organizations and the social embeddedness of natural resource use.  His substantive areas are linked to several methodological interests: social network analysis, causal inference and multi-level models. His publications include quantitative methods for representing relations among actors in a social network, robustness indices for inferences, and the effects of social capital in schools and other social contexts.  He teaches general introductory courses in research methods and quantitative methods as well as advanced courses in multivariate analysis and seminars in social network analysis and causal inference.  Ken’s current projects include a study of the effects of the Michigan Merit Curriculum on educational outcomes and how knowledge about climate change diffuses to policy-makers and educators. His webpage can be found here:

This event is free and open to the public. Lunch and light refreshments will be provided. All are welcome!

For inquires about Networks and Time, please contact coordinators Mark Hoffman ( or Eugene Grey (

Funding support for the Networks and Time Seminar Series is provided by the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Lecture Series, administered by INCITE, which features events and programming that embody and honor Lazarsfeld’s commitment to the improvement of methodological approaches that address concerns of vital cultural and social significance.