Social networks under stress: Specialized team roles and their communication structure

Daniel M. Romero, Brian Uzzi, Jon Kleinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Social network research has begun to take advantage of fine-grained communications regarding coordination, decision-making, and knowledge sharing. These studies, however, have not generally analyzed how external events are associated with a social network's structure and communicative properties. Here, we study how external events are associated with a network's change in structure and communications. Analyzing a complete dataset of millions of instant messages among the decision-makers with different roles in a large hedge fund and their network of outside contacts, we investigate the link between price shocks, network structure, and change in the affect and cognition of decision-makers embedded in the network. We also analyze the communication dynamics among specialized teams in the organization. When price shocks occur the communication network tends not to display structural changes associated with adaptiveness such as the activation of weak ties to obtain novel information. Rather, the network “turtles up.” It displays a propensity for higher clustering, strong tie interaction, and an intensification of insider vs. outsider and within-role vs. between-role communication. Further, we find changes in network structure predict shifts in cognitive and affective processes, execution of new transactions, and local optimality of transactions better than prices, revealing the important predictive relationship between network structure and collective behavior within a social network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6
JournalACM Transactions on the Web
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Collective behavior
  • Organizations
  • Social networks
  • Temporal dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications


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