Networks and Cooperation


Marta Varanda (SOCIUS)


This thematic line is developed around problems of cooperation, governance and sustainability in a world in transition, anchored in multiple theories and methods that follow a relational approach, particularly social network analysis (both exploratory multilevel and dynamic network analysis), and also game theory and agent-based modelling.

The network approach involves theoretical concepts, methods and analytical techniques to uncover the social relations formed by individuals and groups together, as well as the structure of those relations, and how these relations and their structure influence  (or are influenced by) social behaviour, attitudes, beliefs and knowledge.

The assumption is that there no social processes exist without a relational dimension – hence  the importance of theoretical and methodological approaches to detect,  visualize and analyse the social relations underlying processes, such as cooperation, competition, conflict, solidarity, social influence, marginalisation of individuals and groups.

The relevance of social relations in the functioning of the economy has been repeatedly stated: “the anonymous market of neoclassical models is virtually non-existent in economic life and…transactions of all kinds are rife with social relations. Behaviour and institutions (…) are (…) constrained by ongoing social relations” (Granovetter, 1985).

This thematic line will advance the frontier of knowledge regarding the economic, social and organisational issues that confront today’s society: how should public agencies transform themselves and adapt their governance to deal with new and growing wicked problems? Why organisations experimenting new forms and engaging in new partnerships, which go against competitive logic and which have a concern for sustainability (social, environmental and economic), have not been effective at replacing past forms or of even scaling them up? How to engage multi-stakeholder partnerships into cooperating, to face new societal challenges and social innovation at the European level?

In order to address such complex problems of cooperation and governance in a world in transition, this thematic line will profit from ongoing initiatives, such as: the project entitled “Overcoming Organisational cOOPeration dilemmas for a Sustainable society: a social networks approach (OOOPS)”, which was developed in partnership with the University of Groningen and Sciences Po, and recently applied for funding under the H2020 Twinning framework; the Portuguese-Brazilian social network analysis school, launched in 2017; and the social network analysis training courses, that have been offered by ISEG since 2003. CSG already counts with a good pool of researchers to drive this line forward, who are trained in social network analysis, and who have backgrounds in Sociology, Economics, Business and History.

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