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Evolution and Diffusion of the Michigan State University Tradition of Organizational Communication Network Research

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This article documents the 30-year history of communication network research at Michigan State University (M.S.U.), providing a case study of the evolution and diffusion of an academic innovation. Three past and continuing issues for network scholars are identified: a lack of professional reward for developing user-friendly computer programs, unresolved methodological problems, and a need for better theoretical and conceptual frameworks. The narrative also illustrates the difficulty communication as a discipline has in impacting broader intellectual traditions. The story begins with the first doctoral dissertation (Schwartz, 1968) and the first network analysis software program in 1970 (Richards’ Negopy), continuing to the last dissertation (Susskind, 1996), and ending in 1998 when J. David Johnson left the M.S.U. faculty. Other major players in the M.S.U. network tradition included David K. Berio, Eugene Jacobson, Everett M. Rogers, Vincent Farace, Peter Monge, and Erwin Bettinghaus. Ironically, Schwartz and Susskind met in 1998 while Schwartz was preparing to retire from Cornell University and Susskind was starting as an Assistant Professor in a different department, thus providing closure to the M.S.U. network.

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2005-01-01

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network analysis; communication networks; history of communication network analysis; history of communication; evolution of research tradition

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Required Publisher Statement: © Taylor & Francis. Final version published as: Susskind, A. M., Schwartz, D. F., Richards, W. D., & Johnson, J. D. (2005). Evolution and diffusion of the Michigan State University tradition of organizational communication network research. Communication Studies, 56(4), 397-418. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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