Skip to main content

University of Exeter Business School

Social Networks and Organisations

Module titleSocial Networks and Organisations
Module codeBEMM270
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Lei Liu (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Social networks are important components within contemporary societies. As a pivotal mechanism to help us understand organizational processes and outcomes, social networks have been one of the central interests of management scholars. This module will provide you with an introduction to how social networks in organizations are formed, maintained, and changed over time, and how social networks shape individual and organizational processes and outcomes. It will also provide a basic introduction to the method of network research. This module will therefore be of interest to students who attempt to understand organizational behaviours from a social network perspective.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to equip you with the knowledge of social network related theories and the relevance and importance of social networks to management in contemporary organizations. With a focus on reading and discussing classic as well as cutting-edge academic articles in the social network area, this module also attempts to develop your critical thinking skill. On completion, you will be able to use a social network angle to understand and analyse individual, team, and organizational processes and outcomes. You will also be able to generate practical insights regarding how to form and leverage social networks in organizations to facilitate the achievement of personal or organizational goals.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Discuss social network related knowledge and the method for social network analysis
  • 2. Critically evaluate the social network literature
  • 3. Apply social network related knowledge to practical problems in organizations

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Explain organizational behaviours from a social network perspective
  • 5. Discuss how to conduct social network research in organizations

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Provide advice to managers or interested people regarding social network analysis in organizations
  • 7. Develop the skill of effectively communicating opinions

Syllabus plan

Our lectures will cover the following major topic areas:

  • Introduction of social network research
  • Basic Concepts in social network research
  • Whole networks, Ego networks, and cognitive social networks
  • Overview of the key theories
  • Brokerage
  • Antecedents of social networks
  • Social networks and individual outcomes
  • Social networks and team outcomes
  • Team and organizational level networks
  • Social network research method

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity30Lectures (10 x 3 hours)
Guided Independent Study50Preparatory reading before taught sessions
Guided Independent Study70Preparation of assignments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
QuizQuiz: 10 min×21-7Quiz answers will be provided to students
Group presentationPresentation: 15 min for each1-7Verbal feedback will be provided for presentations.

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual essay1003500 words1-7Written, individual

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual essayRe-work and re-submit the individual essay (100%)1-7Referral/Deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

The following list is offered as an indication of the type and level of information that you are expected to consult. Further guidance will be provided by the Module Convenor.

No textbook covers all the topics discussed in this module. Interested students could consult the following:

Kilduff, M. & Tsai, W. (2003). Social Networks and Organizations, London: Sage.

Borgatti, S. P., Everett, M. G. & Johnson, J. C. (2013). Analyzing Social Networks, 1nd edn, London: Sage.

The readings on the module are primarily taken from key academic journals, such as Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, Organization Science, Leadership Quarterly
Example articles include:
Brands, R. A. & Kilduff, M. (2014). Just like a woman? Effects of gender-biased perceptions of friendship network brokerage on attributions and performance. Organization Science, 25(5), 1530-1548.
Brass, D. J. (1984). Being in the right place: A structural analysis of individual influence in an organization. Administrative Science Quarterly, 29(4), 518-539.
Burt, R. S. (2004). Structural holes and good ideas. American Journal of Sociology, 110(2), 349-399.
Granovetter, M. S. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78(6), 1360-1380.
Kilduff, M. (1992). The friendship network as a decision-making resource: Dispositional moderators of social influences on organizational choice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62(1), 168-180.
Kilduff, M. & Lee, J. W. (2020). The integration of people and networks. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 7(1), 155-179.
Kilduff, M. & Krackhardt, D. (1994). Bringing the individual back in: A structural analysis of the internal market for reputation in organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 37(1), 87-108.
Levin, D. Z., Walter, J. & Murnighan, J. K. (2011). Dormant ties: The value of reconnecting. Organization Science, 22(4), 923-939.
Mehra, A., Kilduff, M. & Brass, D. J. (2001). The social networks of high and low self-monitors: Implications for workplace performance. Administrative Science Quarterly, 46(1), 121-146.
Obstfeld, D. (2005). Social networks, the tertius iungens orientation, and involvement in innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 50(1), 100-130.
Perry-Smith, J. E. & Shalley, C. E. (2003). The social side of creativity: A static and dynamic social network perspective. Academy of Management Review, 28(1), 89–106.
Podolny, J. M. & Baron, J. N. (1997). Resources and relationships: Social networks and mobility in the workplace. American Sociological Review, 62(5), 673-693.
Sparrowe, R. T. & Liden, R. C. (2005). Two routes to influence: Integrating leader-member exchange and network perspectives. Administrative Science Quarterly, 50(4), 505-535.
Tasselli, S. & Kilduff, M. (2018). When brokerage between friendship cliques endangers trust: a personality–network fit perspective. Academy of Management Journal, 61(3), 802-825.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources



Key words search

Social networks, organizational behaviour

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date