Monthly Archives: July 2007

Don’t watch what you eat- What what your friends’ friends eat!

A former student of mine, Peter Kasper, very astutely caught the fascinating result in this news article. Obesity is a social contagion. No surprise. But, the effect is stronger for friends in your network than for family AND neighbors. Whats more, even two degrees away has an effect!

Your best friend could be making you fat – Diet & Nutrition –
The effect held for three degrees of separation. If a person became obese, their friends were more likely to become obese, but also friends of friends.

The original research comes from the New England Journal of Medicine and is by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler. They used a very original research design. A long term health study of Framingham, MA, had each person list alternate contacts. As the sample included almost the whole town, these alternative contacts constitute a social network for whom they also had health data from 1948-1971. Very Clever.

The big result is that if one person names another as a contact (unidirectional tie) then if one became obese in teh 32 year period, the other was 57% more likely. If the tie is bidirectional- they each listed each other- then the odds of obesity in one if the other became obese was 157% greater than the baseline risk. WOW. Add a typical degree if clustering and transitivity, and you can see how one fat friend can lead to straining elevator cables in short order. Continue reading

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Filed under Former Students, public health, Social Networks

Yeah Tribunal!

I am getting my PhD through a Spanish Univeristy, the Univeristy of Navarra, and its Business School in Beautiful Barcelona, IESE.

The hows and whys is another story.

To finish my degree I have to present the work orally to what is called in Spanish a Tribunal. Cue Monty Python accent: “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition Tribunal.”

I just got word today that my Dissertation Director, Dr. Sandra Sieber, located a fifth tribunal member. The tribunal, by Spanish law, must have two PhDs from your univeristy and three [3] from other universities. Yeah Sandra! Yeah Tribunal!

Here they are:

Date is Sept 25, a Tuesday.

What a relief.

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Busy Summer

A very busy couple of weeks is coming up.

1) Participate in Professional Development Workshops (PDWs) at the Academy of Management. One is about using Facebook in the classroom; the other is about business solutions to poverty. For the second, I want to lead a discussion about how the current interest with microfinance and social entrepreurship leaves out important questions of power and class. Discussing worker control of companies in Argentina, Europe, and the US, I want to broaden the view of this topic to bring class and conflict back in.

2) Present “Brokerage and/or Closure” at AOM. This is a visual paper that is based on a chapter of my dissertation. The paper found that radical ideas were more likely for people in brokerage positions; however, those ideas were harder to see adopted even controlling for position. Also, final network position was most influenced by action- by having ideas- as opposed to structural inertia.

3) Present “Coors and the Dualistic Strategy of Social and Political Engagement” as part of a symposium about Robert Brady’s work on Business as a System of Power. David Jacobs at Morgan State U is organizing this symposium. This is my first foray into Critical management studies.

4) Comment on a paper about Weber as part of “Sociology classics and the future of organization studies.” The paper is by Stewart Clegg and Marc Lounsbury, two scholars whose work I have admired. So this should be a real treat. I mean, people who_want_ to discuss Weber. Joy!

5) Get ready to teach “Six Degrees of Separation”; “The Rise of the Network Society” ; and “Managing organizational Change.”

6) Finalize my PhD Defense for Sept 25th at IESE in Barcelona Spain.

And, of course, develop new research projects. More of that to come.

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