This study presents new empirical evidence on the relationship between information worker productivityand social capital generated from social networks. As the information content of work increases, studying howinformation workers generate value through both technological and social means is important. There is a large bodyof literature on social networks and organizations that describes the benefit of social networks on work performancein various settings. For example, a stream of literature shows that individuals and organizations with specific typesof network topology, such as one that spans multiple structural holes and occupies a central position within anetwork is more likely to be successful (Burt 1992). However, little research leverages the ample data that are
created by people‘s interactions,
such as e-mail, call logs, text messaging, document repositories, web 2.0 tools, andso on. This gap is problematic, because the literature on organizational networks suffers from the same deficits asmuch of the social network literature does: both tend to be focused on small, static networks. As a result, important
questions like ‗does the optimal network structure for performance hold for a large network‘ and ‗what is the
appropriate timing of communication to actors of interest
‘, and the like have been completely neglected.
Recent advances in information technology give researchers the opportunity to solicit real-time emailcommunication data. Since email archives record detailed communication logs, such as who has emailed whom, theexact time of the interaction, and the content of the exchange, constructing social networks using email archivesallows researchers to eliminate errors and bias that are often introduced in self-reports. Recent empirical work hasstarted to capture real-time communication between people in various settings. Aral et. al (2006, 2007) and Aral andVan Alstyne (2007) record real-time electronic communication within an executive recruiting firm to provide someof the first empirical evidence demonstrating how information workers use information technology and their socialnetworks to generate business value.
Similarly, Wu et. al (2008) use ―sociometric badges‖ to examine the impact of
face-to-face communication networks on the productivity of hardware configuration specialists. While these worksleverage new data collection techniques to advance our understanding of how information workers utilize socialnetworks to improve their work performance, we have yet to see a study that explores a large-scale dataset involvingmore than a handful of people over a brief period of time. Lin et. al (2008) invented a privacy-preservingorganizational social network analysis system that uses social sensors to gather, crawl and mine various types of data sources, including content of individual email and instant message communications, calendars, hierarchicalstructure of the organization as well as individual role assignments. The system is deployed in more than 70