Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Department Seminar Series - Tiziana Casciaro - University of Toronto - Tuesday June 26th 2018

The Management Department
Department Seminar Series

Tiziana casciaro
 Tuesday, June 26th 2018
   Room N231 at 10:00 am (4.00 p.m in Singapore)

Theme:  “How do people perceive organizational networks? Toward a theory of Gestalt versus elemental network perception”

 Abstract: “How people perceive organizational networks influences individual and organizational outcomes above and beyond the effects of the network structure underlying those perceptions. In investigating these effects, research on network perception has been dominated by an elemental view of social cognition, which assumes that people encode and recall each tie in the network, and construct their view of the network as a whole based on the sum of these ties.  This dominant view has marginalized a Gestalt, holistic view of network perception, whereby people perceptions of an actor’s network position (i.e., central vs peripheral, high status vs. low status, liked vs. disliked) are created through a top-down, category-driven process that hinges heavily on their organized prior knowledge, as opposed to relying primarily on bottom-up, data-driven processes. I argue and document empirically that recognizing the distinction between elemental and Gestalt forms of network perception allows a greater understanding of the descriptive (how people do perceive networks) and prescriptive (how people should perceive networks) implications of network perception for organizational behavior. I then set the conceptual foundations for a theory that encourages a distinction between thin structure and deep structure as boundary conditions for the relevance of elemental and Gestalt network perceptions. Elemental network cognition, I propose, is necessary to capture the effects of deep structural features of the network—the complex topology of network edges. Gestalt network perceptions may suffice instead when a phenomenon can be understood in terms of its thin structural features—higher-level aggregates and trends of social connections. Working toward such a theory can direct future studies toward a fuller account of the way people form network perceptions, the boundary conditions for the impact of those perceptions on organizational phenomena, and the methodological options that such descriptive and prescriptive theorizing opens up for research on organizational networks.