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PhD Defense : Sebastian Schorch

[15] [Dec 2015] [ 2:00 pm] [ ]

Sebastian Schorch will defend his PhD thesis on December 15th at 2pm in room F908. His thesis is entitled "An actor focused exploration of antecedents to social network evolution within and between groups in organizations". The jury will be composed of Corinne Faure (chair), Alexandra Gerbasi (supervisor), Andrew Parker (internal examiner) and Joshua Marineau (external examiner) from the North Dakota State University.


In his thesis, Sebastian explores how individual behaviors and perceptions influence the evolution of their networks of social relationships.

Social network research in general has a structuralist tradition which makes actor focused research an important complementary element. The empirical studies are predominantly based on quantitative longitudinal social network data which has been collected in an R&D department of a biopharmaceutical company, and during an innovation competition between teams of engineering students.

Chapter 2 is about the benefits of civility and investigates the influence of civil behavior on patterns of advice seeking and leadership. He finds that civil individuals are more likely to be sought out for advice and are more likely to be perceived as leader, which in turns benefits their work performance.

Chapter 3 is about knowledge seeking of teams in a competitive situation. Here, he finds that team members preferably seek knowledge from team outsiders, whom they perceive as noteworthy competitor. This behavior benefits their teams’ performance, while those teams that are perceived (and sought out) by many others perform worse despite their assumed competence advantage.

Chapter 4 is about the influence of group internal relationships on group external relationships. Here, he finds that personal relationships within the group promote downward comparisons to group outsiders, while professional relationships within the group promote upward comparisons to group outsiders. In combination, these three empirical applications shed light on actor induced network dynamics within and across social aggregates.

He derives various recommendations for managers that lead work groups or departments in organizations on how they can boost their own-, and their subordinates’ performance