We are passionate about exploring new ideas through scientific discovery, and have based our work on peer-reviewed studies whenever possible. Read on to see what we know about improving communities, and please contact us if you have any suggestions!
Please contact us if you are interested in using smallworld to study the science of connection.
We first heard about the power of high-quality connections (HQCs) from the Center for Positive Organizations at the Ross School of Business. HQCs are short, positive connections and are associated with increased productivity for communities and community members. Features that help improve the quality of a connection include openness, flexibility, and vulnerability.
- Dutton, J.E., & Heaphy, E. The power of high-quality connections. In K.S. Cameron, J.E. Dutton, & R.E. Quinn. (Eds.), Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline (pp. 263–278). San Francisco: BerrettKoehler, 2003.
- Stephens. J.P., E. Heaphy and J. Dutton. High Quality Connections. In K, Cameron and G. Spreitzer (eds.), Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Happiness and Well-being
Happinesss and well-being are associated with the number and quality of a community member's social connections. Research also suggests that having a variety of social connections -- from superficial to intimate -- can increase well-being. Social support can mediate stress and even increase quality and length of life.
- Cacioppo, John T., et al. "Happiness and the invisible threads of social connection." The science of subjective well-being (2008): 195-219.
- Cohen, S., Brissette, I., Skoner, D. P., & Doyle, W. J. (2000). Social integration and health: The case of the common cold. Journal of Social Structure, 1(3), 1–7.
- Kroenke CH, Kubzansky LD, Schernhammer ES, Holmes MD, Kawachi I. Social networks, social support, and survival after breast cancer diagnosis. J Clin Oncol. 2006;24:1105-1111.
Homophily is the tendency of community members to cluster together based on similarities such an interest, gender, or race. Homophily also occurs along lines of organizational hierarchy. This tendency leads to isolation in many communities in which we work and live.
- Arcidiacono, Peter, Esteban M. Aucejo, Andrew Hussey, and Kenneth Spenner. 2013. “Racial Segregation Patterns in Selective Universities.” Journal of Law and Economics 56 (4): 1039–60.
- McPherson, Miller, Smith-Lovin Lynn, and Cook James M. "Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks." Annual Review of Sociology 27 (2001): 415-44. Web.
- Ruef, Martin, Aldrich Howard E., and Carter Nancy M. "The Structure of Founding Teams: Homophily, Strong Ties, and Isolation among U.S. Entrepreneurs." American Sociological Review 68.2 (2003): 195-222. Web.
Due to homophily, subgroups within a community tend not interact, limiting the sharing of knowledge and perspective. As it turns out, the theory of weak ties suggests that community members who are not similar to each other are much more efficient at exchanging information. Innovate Brew, a project at Innovate Blue, studies how random connections leads to innovation.
- Kelley, D. (2009), Adaptation and Organizational Connectedness in Corporate Radical Innovation Programs. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 26: 487–501. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5885.2009.00676.x
- Lovejoy, W.S. and Sinha, A. (2010), “Efficient structures for innovative social networks”, Management Science, Vol. 56 No. 7, pp. 1127-1145.
More connections within a community results in a greater understanding of the resources and skills available to its members. An increase in connectedness also leads to more diversity within teams, which is associated with enhanced productivity.
- Ellison, Sara Fisher, and Wallace P. Mullin. "Diversity, social goods provision, and performance in the firm." Journal of Economics & Management Strategy 23.2 (2014): 465-481.
Community Member Feedback
I've met with several people I hadn't yet talked to or connected with. This has given
me a great opportunity to get to know more of my classmates, especially ones who are in a different social circle.
I've really enjoyed [Small World]! --Medical Student
I got to connect with fellow classmates and learn more about them in a more organic way than a traditional orientation-esque ice breaker. I also was able to exchange advice about school, research, and extracurricular activities. --Medical Student
I've been able to chat at length with classmates instead of just in passing. Also, I've been paired with some great people that otherwise I wouldn't have socialized with. It's been a great experience! --Medical Student