Agency and intentionality in networking: an interactive experiment

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Anne Ter Wal
Imperial College Business School, London (UK)
Tuesday, 26 March 2019 - 12:00

Despite tremendous progress in network and social capital research over the past decades, the behavioral aspects of networking remain ill-understood. Research has tended to ignore how individuals balance intentional, high-agency networking actions and serendipitous, low-agency actions and how the mix between those two sets of behaviors may affect individual utility from networking. Whereas the emerging body of research on networking predominantly portrays individuals as highly instrumental and goal-directed in their networking, studies in the prevailing structuralist paradigm of social capital research emphasize network actions induced by prior social structure and environmental factors. In this study we aim to unite both perspectives, addressing how individuals balance intentional and serendipitous behaviors during networking. Using an interactive experiment in which we manipulate the extent of forethought exercised ahead of an information search task, we observe – with the help of sociometric badges – how planning and preparation shift the balance between ego- vs. alter-initiated actions, intentional vs. ad-hoc actions, and deliberate vs. emergent actions. Using a battery of psychological and cognitive measures as a backdrop, we assess how certain personality and cognitive characteristics enable individuals to adopt the balance in behaviors that helps them to successfully navigate social settings in search of information.

Place: 

Ciudad Politécnica de la Innovación
Edificio 8E, Acceso J, Planta 4ª (Sala Descubre. Cubo Rojo)
Universitat Politècnica de València | Camino de Vera s/n

Short CV: 

Anne ter Wal joined Imperial College Business School in 2009 and is Associate Professor of Technology and Innovation Management in the Department of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Anne is also affiliated as Senior Researcher to ETH Zurich.  

His research, often in collaboration with leading multinational companies, focuses on the role of networks in innovation and entrepreneurship. Specifically, Anne studies how individuals access new knowledge and ideas through networks within and between organizations and the challenges they face when seeking to apply these ideas to the creation of novel products and services. He leads a large-scale EU-funded research project into entrepreneurial networking, studying how networking enables entrepreneurs to build valuable networks that help them achieve business and innovation success. He also has an interest in the management of creativity, in particular in the role of bootlegging and other deviant forms of creativity in driving innovative outcomes. 

Prior to joining Imperial College, Anne was a doctoral researcher at the Section of Economic Geography at Utrecht University. His work has been published in leading journals in geography, innovation studies and management, including Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, Research Policy, Journal of Economic Geography, Economic Geography, Regional Studies and Industry & Innovation. Anne serves on the editorial board of the Academy of Management Journal.