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A Multilevel Study of Interpersonal Influence in Academic ‘Influence Networks’
Unformatted Document Text:  Influence Networks 4 instructor who faces a behavioral decision should experience normative pressure from a select member within the influence network, namely from the individual who occupies a structurally central network position. The relationship between structural position and influence is not without complication. Research illustrates that the connection between these concepts is not seen in exchange networks (Cook, Emerson, Gilmore, & Yamagishi, 1983), and although the centrality-influence link has been found, it is not solely based on structural position. Current research indicates that this relationship is mediated by properties of the social network. Based on computer simulations of network configuration and power, Mizruchi and Potts conclude, “centrality does contribute to an actor’s power, but the extent to which is does so depends not only on the structure of the network but also on the number of subgroups and ability of the central actor to play a mediating role among the leaders of competing subgroups” (1998, p. 384). Also, Friedkin proposes that the influence of central individuals is dampened in networks that contain many central individuals, introducing a structural constraint on the centrality-influence link that is defined by the average indegree, or the number of individuals who receive a high number of social choices within a network (Friedkin, 1998). At this juncture, the relationship is less understood than is required to form substantive theoretical generalizations. Disambiguating this relationship is important because it appears within social influence network theories that include structural and individual level variables; both diffusion of innovations theory (Rogers, 1995) and the structural theory of influence (Friedkin, 1998) assume that the ability to exert interpersonal influence is increased for centrally located individuals. Knowing more about when this relationship ‘holds’ and when it does not can contribute to extensions of these theories, in terms of their theoretical scope and predictive

Authors: Wolski, Stacy.
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Influence Networks 4
instructor who faces a behavioral decision should experience normative pressure from a select
member within the influence network, namely from the individual who occupies a structurally
central network position.
The relationship between structural position and influence is not without complication.
Research illustrates that the connection between these concepts is not seen in exchange networks
(Cook, Emerson, Gilmore, & Yamagishi, 1983), and although the centrality-influence link has
been found, it is not solely based on structural position. Current research indicates that this
relationship is mediated by properties of the social network. Based on computer simulations of
network configuration and power, Mizruchi and Potts conclude, “centrality does contribute to an
actor’s power, but the extent to which is does so depends not only on the structure of the network
but also on the number of subgroups and ability of the central actor to play a mediating role
among the leaders of competing subgroups” (1998, p. 384). Also, Friedkin proposes that the
influence of central individuals is dampened in networks that contain many central individuals,
introducing a structural constraint on the centrality-influence link that is defined by the average
indegree, or the number of individuals who receive a high number of social choices within a
network (Friedkin, 1998).
At this juncture, the relationship is less understood than is required to form substantive
theoretical generalizations. Disambiguating this relationship is important because it appears
within social influence network theories that include structural and individual level variables;
both diffusion of innovations theory (Rogers, 1995) and the structural theory of influence
(Friedkin, 1998) assume that the ability to exert interpersonal influence is increased for centrally
located individuals. Knowing more about when this relationship ‘holds’ and when it does not
can contribute to extensions of these theories, in terms of their theoretical scope and predictive


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