Identifying sets of key players in a social network

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Abstract

A procedure is described for finding sets of key players in a social network. A key assumption is that the optimal selection of key players depends on what they are needed for. Accordingly, two generic goals are articulated, called KPP-POS and KPP-NEG. KPP-POS is defined as the identification of key players for the purpose of optimally diffusing something through the network by using the key players as seeds. KPP-NEG is defined as the identification of key players for the purpose of disrupting or fragmenting the network by removing the key nodes. It is found that off-the-shelf centrality measures are not optimal for solving either generic problem, and therefore new measures are presented.

Stephen P. Borgatti is Professor of Organization Studies at the Carroll School of Management, Boston College. His research is focused on social networks, social cognition and knowledge management. He is also interested in the application of social network analysis to the solution of managerial problems.