Researching the Researcher: A Social Network Analysis of the Multidisciplinary Knowledge Creation Process
This research describes the relationship between several social network characteristics and knowledge creation outputs in the form of patented intellectual property of researchers by investigating the case of the University of Waterloo. Based on a literature review in the domains of social networks and knowledge creation, this research focuses on the position of knowledge creation between social closure theory and structural hole theory. These are the two seminal theories of the creation of social capital through social networks. From this body of literature, this thesis develops the research question involving five hypotheses. These hypotheses test whether network density, strength of relationships, diversity of relationships, and amount of research funding have a positive correlation with the number of patents held by the researcher, and whether network size has a negative correlation with number of patents held by a researcher. The data for this research comes from a variety of secondary sources including the University's Office of Research, UWDIR online directory, NSERC research awards search engine, and CIPO patent database. Using a combination of social network analysis and statistical regression analysis, this research shows that network density, diversity of relationships, and amount of research funding have a positive correlation with knowledge creation outputs, while network size has a negative relationship with knowledge creation outputs. Understanding the relationship that these social network factors have with the knowledge creation outputs can help the University develop strategies to help improve their knowledge creation processes, thereby putting the University in a stronger position to facilitate the development of patentable ideas and innovations by encouraging the development of research centres and institutes that intersect disciplinary boundaries.