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The Co-evolution of Gossip and Friendship in Workplace Social Networks

Ellwardt, L., C. Steglich, and R. Wittek (2012). The Co-Evolution of Gossip and Friendship in Workplace Social Networks. Social Networks 34 (4): 623-633.

Best Student Paper Award 2011
International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA)

This study investigates the co-evolution of friendship and gossip in organizations. Two contradicting theories are tested. Social capital theory predicts that friendship causes gossip between employees, defined as informal evaluative talking about absent colleagues. Evolutionary theory reverses this causality claiming that gossiping facilitates friendship. The data comprises of three observations of a complete organizational network, allowing longitudinal social network analyses. Gossip and friendship are modeled as both explanatory and outcome networks with RSiena. Results support evolutionary theory, as gossip increases friendship formation in dyads. However, disproportionately high gossip activity decreases the number of friends in the group.
Keywords: social networks, gossip, friendship, RSiena, co-evolution, multiplex networks

Rafael Wittek,
Nov 28, 2013, 1:39 AM