Team-network research

How do the networks of individuals in groups and teams affect how successful those collectives are? How do those networks evolve over time these basic questions received a lot of attention in the 1950s, with experimental work by Bavelas and colleagues in the Small Group Network Laboratory in MIT, as well as Newcomb’s dormitory study in Michigan. It was also an important component of the classic Robbers Cave experiment in the 1960s. However, remarkably, research focused at the nexus of teams/groups and social networks largely disappeared from the 1960s to 2000, give or take. Probably this reflects the fact that social network analysis, which had a very active presence in social psychology in the 1950s (Bavelas, Festinger, Newcomb, etc), largely shifted into sociology in the 1960s and 1970s. In the last few years, with the enormous increase in attention received by social network analysis, there has been a modest resurgence of activity on the social networks of small teams. Research by Nancy Katz and me has been part of that emerging body of work. In the first three papers below, we (in part together with Holly Arrow and Noshir Contractor) review this literature, highlighting particularly attractive avenues of research. In the fourth paper, we import ideas from economic sociology—relational and structural embeddedness— to examine how teams overcome potential free rider problems. In the fifth paper (with Brian Rubineau and Carol Chetkovich), we examine social influence processes.

(1) Nancy Katz and David Lazer, "Building Effective Intra-Organizational Networks: The Role of Teams," Center for Public Leadership, Harvard University.

(2) Nancy Katz, David Lazer, Holly Arrow, and Noshir Contractor, "Network Theory and Small Groups," Small Group Research 35(3), June 2004.

(3) Nancy Katz, David Lazer, Holly Arrow, and Noshir Contractor, "Network Theory and Group Research," in Andrea Hollingshead and Scott Poole (eds), Perspectives on Small Group Research, Sage: 2005.

(4) David Lazer and Nancy Katz, "Regulating Effort: the role of embeddedness in teams" revising for resubmission to Academy of Management Journal.

(5) Brian Rubineau, David Lazer, Nancy Katz, and Carol Chetkovich, "Birds of a Feather or Dogs on the Tether: Distinguishing Social Influence from Homophily," paper to be presented at the 2006 Sunbelt Conference.

**(For any of the above articles without a link, please email david_lazer(at) for a PDF or hardcopy)

For more information, as well as more papers, you can go to the TeamNet project website.

Concept & Design © Alexander Schellong