Research Collaboration in the Social Network: The Implication on Research Performance in the Field of Business


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Award date4 Jun 2021


Team-based research has been predominant among scholars. This dissertation aims to examine how the research collaboration network is correlated to research performance, specifically, research productivity and research impact in the business field. In the following two interrelated essays, we investigate the relationship between network openness, network centrality and research performance. 

The first essay examines the two aspects of network openness, namely, openness size and openness diversity at individual and group level networks, and how they affect both research productivity and impact. Network openness, as an important trait of the multilayer network, represents the boundary of resources embedded in social capital. Based on bibliometric data and personal information of 2994 scholars who have published papers in the four leading marketing journals spanning the years 2001 to 2016, we find that openness size and openness diversity play a mixed role in affecting research performance. Specifically, at the individual-level, openness size is positively correlated with research productivity, and exhibits a non-linear relationship with research impact. Openness diversity shows a curvilinear relationship with both research productivity and impact. At the group-level network, both openness size and diversity signify a non-linear relationship with research productivity. Moreover, international collaboration experience exerts a moderating effect on such relationships between network openness and research performance under different scenarios. The findings suggest different research collaboration strategies for knowledge workers searching for partners from size and diversity perspectives. These findings offer both theoretical and practical implications for individuals, organizations, and various stakeholders conducting team-based R&D activities in an international collaboration context. 

The second essay explores the correlation between network centrality and both male and female scholars’ research performance. In the scientific community, female scholars face major gender disparity challenges. Predicated on extracts from 305,022 research articles covering 269 journals in the business field during the 1926-2020 period, this study investigates the correlation between network centrality and female scholars’ productivity and impact in comparison with their male peers based on 110,138 scholars’ co-authorship networks. We find that male scholars, on average, own a larger network size and possess a more controlling position that enables them to either facilitate or interrupt information flows between scholars, whereas female scholars have relatively closer relationships with other scholars in the network. Although men are well-connected and highly controlling within the network, women can publish more articles and gain higher impact when networking efficiently. Specifically, female scholars have a long-lasting advantage over males when maintaining short distances among all scholars who are positioned properly to influence the whole network more quickly. Despite men being more critical to the information flow around the network system, women can actually benefit the same or more from serving as a “bridge” under moderate levels of betweenness centrality. Furthermore, female scholars benefit from working with well-connected scholars to a greater extent than male scholars.

    Research areas

  • Social network, Research collaboration, Network openness, Network centrality, Network structure, Social capital, Knowledge creation, Gender stereotype, Research performance