Online Social Networks (Homework Assignment)

Week 5 topic was online social networks. The articles given for the homework assignment were three in total but did not all focus on the same subject.


The first one gives a definition of Social Network Sites (SNSs), while trying to recompose the historical development of such sites, and mentions previous scholarships concerning the topic. After reading this article, I found very clear and interesting the history of SNSs, which started in 1997, hit the mainstream from 2003 and rapidly became a global phenomenon. However, I found a weak point of the article being that it is not explained why social network sites proliferated at such a high rate and what reason is behind this existential need of people to join such sites.

The second article examines the vast topic of network analysis (SNA), with a special focus on social sciences, elaborating on the history and development of social networks. Though, the authors gave a great overview on the antecedents on network phenomena, they didn’t elaborate more on the consequences of such phenomena nor they gave detailed examples on applications of network analysis.

The third article approaches the topic business network-based value creation in E-commerce. The authors focus on the reasons why business networks exist and whether they create value to the companies as well as to the consumers over time. Actually the authors have a deterministic view in that business networks are inevitable once IT becomes more and more advanced, because companies are in a stronger position entering strategic alliances with other companies and the networks across firms to create a one-stop shop for consumers. The main reason is that business networks lead essentially to less vertical integration, due to diversification effects, thus lowering the systematic risks of businesses.

I searched for another extra article on the major concepts and measures in SNA. After reading the article the key difference between SNA and the traditional approach became clear. While conventional research approaches assume people behave independently of their networking, SNA assumes that people are all interdependent and that connections have real consequences for performance.

One example I found is about Masterfoods, a division of Mars, Inc. the well-known company that makes such worldwide favorites as M&M’s, Snickers, and the Mars bar. Their challenge was to find new ways to grow, such as through new products and businesses, and thus they performed network analysis to create a new R&D network to allow the cooperation of people inside and outside the R&D division. The management’s idea behind this was that a diverse R&D network, would be more likely to yield greater business ideas for the long-run success of the company.

Another example I found on business networks lies on media communications. Arsenault and Castells (2008) argue that only global networks have a competitive advantage on mastering the resources of global media production effectively. These networks capitalize upon richer and interactive media communication offered by the emergence of the digital culture. The most interesting part was that these companies can directly compete and have partnerships at the same time. For instance News Corp and NBC Universal, direct competitors, have a joint business, that competes Youtube, a subsidiary of Google. Also the authors show that these media communication networks interfere with other businesses from different sectors that again create networks.



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