A social network's changing statistical properties and the quality of human innovation

Brian Uzzi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


We examined the entire network of creative artists that made Broadway musicals, in the post-War period, a collaboration network of international acclaim and influence, with an eye to investigating how the network's structural features condition the relationship between individual artistic talent and the success of their musicals. Our findings show that some of the evolving topographical qualities of degree distributions, path lengths and assortativity are relatively stable with time even as collaboration patterns shift, which suggests their changes are only minimally associated with the ebb and flux of the success of new productions. In contrast, the clustering coefficient changed substantially over time and we found that it had a nonlinear association with the production of financially and artistically successful shows. When the clustering coefficient ratio is low or high, the financial and artistic success of the industry is low, while an intermediate level of clustering is associated with successful shows. We supported these findings with sociological theory on the relationship between social structure and collaboration and with tests of statistical inference. Our discussion focuses on connecting the statistical properties of social networks to their performance and the performance of the actors embedded within them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number224023
JournalJournal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 6 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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