EUSN2016: Exchange networks in science – what do scholars exchange and how do they do it?

2nd European Conference on Social Networks

The main aim of the paper is discussing the exchange processes in collaboration ego-networks among scientists. On some fundamental level, we can think of scholars as actors possessing, or controlling, various types of resources. These resources can be roughly grouped into the following categories: human capital resources including skills and knowledge; social capital resources including social status and social connections to other researchers; financial capital resources including access to and control of research funds. Desirability and uneven distribution of these resources between different scholars create opportunities for collaboration that take the form of exchange. Previous research has developed general rules for exchange: behaviour is motivated by the desire to increase gain and to avoid loss, exchange relations develop in structures of mutual dependence, actors engage in recurrent, mutually contingent exchanges with specific partners over time, valued outcomes obey the economic law of diminishing marginal utility. However, it does not take into consideration types of resources, which are substantial for understanding scientific collaboration networks. Based on 30 IDI conducted with Polish scholars we show what resources are a subject of exchange; what are the motivation to initiate and engage in exchange; what are the norms regulating the exchange of different types of resources?

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