Network theory:The strength of weak ties & Structural holes  New approach to Platform Strategy vol.1


First, let me briefly introduce network theory.
Network theory is defined as “the study of studying the nature of huge and complex networks that exist in the real world.” This is a field where scholars from various fields, such as sociologists, mathematicians, and psychologists, are conducting research day and night.

In English, network means net or pulse. There are many networks around us. In addition to the theme of this manuscript, “People-to-people connections = human connections,” infrastructure such as power networks, air networks, broadcasting networks, and telephone networks, Internet networks, and even human nerve cells, food chains, and ecosystems , There are innumerable networks such as transmission routes of infectious diseases.

Research has shown that these networks have a very complex structure, but in fact, if you look closely, they have a “certain common property” about “the relationship between something and something.” ..

A brief history goes back to the famous theory of “graph theory” by Leonhard Euler, a genius mathematician born in the 18th century. The meaning of “graph” in this graph theory is different from the bar graphs and line graphs that we use on a daily basis.

For example, in the railroad network diagram that you often see, the actual direction and distance are not strictly considered, and they are simplified and abstracted. Even so, such a diagram is useful, for example, “How far is Tokyo Station and Ueno Station on the Yamanote Line?” “How long does it take to move?” “To change to the Marunouchi Subway Line, change at Tokyo Station. This is because information such as “I should do it” can be read from there. It doesn’t matter for the time being, how many kilometers the station section actually is, or exactly in which direction the railroad tracks are heading.

In other words, the only thing that matters in that figure is how what is represented by a “dot” (in this case, a station) is connected to another point. Euler called the figure formed from these “points” and the “lines” that connect them “graphs”.
At this time, the “point” is called the vertex (node), and the line connecting the nodes is called the edge (edge). And the connection made by the node and the edge is called “tie”. Graph theory is a field for expressing and studying the relationship between such vertices.

Although network theory has existed since the 18th century, it has been rapidly attracting attention since 1998, and it can be said that it is a fairly new research field.

One of the characteristics of network theory is that the profile of the person (node) itself is “not interested”.

For example, let’s say you receive a “friend request” from someone you don’t know on SNS such as Facebook. How would you behave then? Some may ignore everything they don’t know. Some people may just look at the applicant’s profile and guess what they are. Some people may check how many friends they have in common, what kind of friends they have, and how many friends and followers they have. People who have a large number of them may think that they are popular and reliable, and even if they don’t actually know each other, they may approve the “friend request”.

This is where the essence of network theory lies. To reiterate, network theory is a discipline that seeks to understand a person by focusing on the relationship between that person and another person, such as the friendship of that person. In other words, it can be said to be a discipline that “understands the target person or thing by analyzing the connection.”

And the reason why network theory is not interested in the person’s profile itself is, “Innate factors such as gender and age, and acquired factors such as educational background, work history, and experience. Rather than a factor, the person’s relationship with others, that is, the network, is a factor that has a greater influence on the person’s behavior. ”

The strength of weak ties  The tremendous power that “weak ties” bring
In 1973, American sociologist Mark S. Granovetter published a treatise entitled “The strength of weak ties.” The results of this research have had a great influence on the subsequent network theory, and are still said to be the gold standard for network research. This “strength of weak ties” is a hypothesis derived from empirical research conducted to clarify the matching mechanism between companies (employers) and employees (employees).

Let’s explain with an easy-to-understand example. For example, what kind of person would you consult when you are thinking of changing jobs? Perhaps it’s a close and trusted friend or family member, or a close senior.

However, in reality, it is unexpectedly difficult to obtain useful information from people who are always close to us and who are in the same environment as ourselves who are constantly exchanging information. Rather, the fact that “acquaintances who are not always so closely connected” provide far more useful information for changing jobs is, very simply, Granovetter’s “strength of weak ties”. It was a research result.

The actual survey was conducted in 1970 on 282 white-collar men living in the suburbs of Boston, USA. As a result, 56% of people succeeded in finding a job using the “weak network”, but those who changed jobs with the information obtained from the “weak network” got information from the “strong network” and changed jobs. It turned out that they were more satisfied after changing jobs than those who did.

From this fact, Granovetter builds the hypothesis that “information in strong network is often known, whereas information obtained from weak network is unknown and important.”

In other words, “For the dissemination of valuable information, a person who knows a little more than a strong network (strong ties) such as family members, best friends, and colleagues in the same workplace, or a weak network such as a friend’s friend. The network (weak ties) is more important. ”

Furthermore, Mark Granovetter said that weak ties also function as “bridges” that connect strong network networks, so they play an important role in the dissemination of information. Let’s explain this with an example.

You work for company A. Company A wants to have a strategic connection with Company B. But unfortunately, I can’t find any employee of company A who knows the employee of company B. However, you happened to be acquainted with an employee of Company B because he was a classmate with your brother. Then, in order for Company A to connect with Company B, only you can function as a bridge. The relationship between you and the employees of Company B is very weak as a brother’s classmate, but nevertheless, Company A and Company B were able to connect. This is the power of the bridge.

So far, “weak ties” have strong power, but on the other hand, the network of “strong ties” has high homogeneity and strong centripetal force, but on the contrary, it is difficult for people in that network to disagree. It often happens that the isolation is strengthened without any external information.

Imagine working with someone from the same workplace every day, going out for a drink together at night, and living in the same company housing. Of course, this makes communication easier and has the advantage of creating cohesiveness, but it makes it difficult to meet outsiders and obtain new information. It would be courageous to take the option of not going drinking alone in such an environment.

In that sense, it can be said that an organization in which innovation occurs is an organization in which many weak ties exist.

Granovetter also states that “information transmitted by weak ties is of high value.” When you think about it, it’s natural, and despite the fact that it’s a weak tie relationship, you bother to get in touch, so that information should be important.

In the previous example, the reason why you bother to contact a brother’s classmate who has a weak tie is because Company A wants to contact Company B by all means. Therefore, the information from Company A will naturally be of high value. Also, from Company B’s point of view, that information is not in-house, so it can be said that it is often of high value as well.

This suggests that “in our company, we should actively interact with people from other departments that are not in the same department, as well as people from other companies.”

Structural holes Theory of structural holes
In addition, Professor Ronald S. Bart of the University of Chicago Business School said, “Organizations dominated by some groups of people will perform poorly.” It’s important. ”

The index that measures how closely people are related to each other in a network is called network density. A network with a high density means people you like and the same way of thinking. It means a network of contacts that is connected only to the people who are doing it. It can be said that the voids are small because of its high density.

When you use SNS etc., you may realize that it is easier to connect with people who have the same way of thinking as you. In a normal network, you tend to connect only with people you like or have the same idea, so if you leave it to yourself, it will inevitably become dense and homogeneous.

However, within such a “strong tie” network, the ability to collect information from the outside weakens due to weak connections with people who have different opinions from ourselves. Not only that, but when you’re in such a high-density network, information is shared instantly, making it difficult for you to act or speak freely, even if you have different opinions.

In other words, in a high-density network, there are no gaps that can move freely, that is, “voids”. And when it comes to an organization in which some people control (restrict) free movements, that is, a so-called uneven society, it becomes “Murahachibu” to say that it is different from the people around it. is. The entire organization loses its competitiveness as new information is no longer available to such organizations. In order for an organization to establish a competitive advantage, it needs to be an organization that can obtain diverse information.

In order for any organization to transform into a brilliant organization that produces innovation, the people who run the organization, including the management, need to learn how important “diversity & inclusion” is. Isn’t is?













1973年、アメリカの社会学者であるマーク・S・グラノヴェッターは、「弱い紐帯の強さ(“The strength of weak ties”)」という論文を世に出しました。この研究成果は、その後のネットワーク理論に多大な影響を与え、現在でもネットワーク研究の金字塔といわれています。この「弱い紐帯の強さ」とは、企業(雇用者)と社員(被雇用者)のマッチングメカニズムを明らかにするために行った実証研究から導かれた仮説です。






















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