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A Multilevel Study of Interpersonal Influence in Academic ‘Influence Networks’
Unformatted Document Text:  Influence Networks 3 Introduction Individuals base behavioral decisions on both their attitude and on features of the influence context, including the opinions of other individuals who have some bearing on the decision. For example, when making a decision about whether or not to use a web page to deliver course content, instructors pull from different sources that influence their decision, such as prior experience, perceived efficacy, and general attitudes about performing the behavior. Individuals do not make their decision in a vacuum, however, because their decision is made within a social context of interpersonal influence. One way to model the social context that surrounds influence processes is to analyze how individuals are interconnected through communication ties that construct ‘influence networks’. Influence networks allow for opinions to flow through communication ties and they also allow for visibility of behavioral enactment across a network. As individuals form a behavioral decision, it is expected that other instructors within the same academic department will have some bearing on an individual’s choice. Moreover, there is reason to believe that certain individuals within a social network will exert more interpersonal influence than others. Multiple elements of influence networks have been found to impact decision outcomes. For instance, Valente’s work on influence thresholds in diffusion of innovations suggests structural cohesion as an explanatory structural variable (Valente, 1996). Also, structural equivalence and brokering network positions have been found to impact influence outcomes (Burt & Janicik, 1996; Burt, 2000). Among the growing list of structural variables that in some way impact the flow of influence throughout social networks, there is a widely held principle that structurally central individuals possess influential power over interconnected others (Freeman, 1979; French, 1956; Friedkin, 1998; Mizruchi & Potts, 1998; Rogers, 1995). Hence, the

Authors: Wolski, Stacy.
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Influence Networks 3
Introduction
Individuals base behavioral decisions on both their attitude and on features of the
influence context, including the opinions of other individuals who have some bearing on the
decision. For example, when making a decision about whether or not to use a web page to
deliver course content, instructors pull from different sources that influence their decision, such
as prior experience, perceived efficacy, and general attitudes about performing the behavior.
Individuals do not make their decision in a vacuum, however, because their decision is made
within a social context of interpersonal influence. One way to model the social context that
surrounds influence processes is to analyze how individuals are interconnected through
communication ties that construct ‘influence networks’. Influence networks allow for opinions
to flow through communication ties and they also allow for visibility of behavioral enactment
across a network. As individuals form a behavioral decision, it is expected that other instructors
within the same academic department will have some bearing on an individual’s choice.
Moreover, there is reason to believe that certain individuals within a social network will exert
more interpersonal influence than others.
Multiple elements of influence networks have been found to impact decision outcomes.
For instance, Valente’s work on influence thresholds in diffusion of innovations suggests
structural cohesion as an explanatory structural variable (Valente, 1996). Also, structural
equivalence and brokering network positions have been found to impact influence outcomes
(Burt & Janicik, 1996; Burt, 2000). Among the growing list of structural variables that in some
way impact the flow of influence throughout social networks, there is a widely held principle that
structurally central individuals possess influential power over interconnected others (Freeman,
1979; French, 1956; Friedkin, 1998; Mizruchi & Potts, 1998; Rogers, 1995). Hence, the


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