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Colloquium Sociology - David Stark, Game Changer: Structural Folds with Cognitive Distance in Video Game Production

When:Tu 11-12-2012 13:00 - 14:00
Where:B.136

December 11, 2012, 13:00-14:15:
David Stark (Columbia University): Game Changer: Structural Folds with Cognitive Distance in Video Game Production

How does the historical makeup of a team contribute to its creative success? With my co-authors I address this question using tools of historical network analysis to examine data on some 140,000 individuals in some 39,000 video game production teams from 1979 to 2009. The paper examines, first, the prior exposure of team members to stylistic elements and computes a measure of stylistic or cognitive distance for every team. But teams are not only made up of individuals; they are also composed of groups. One important basis of group formation is whether people worked together in the past. We reconstruct the work histories of team members and record such communities of prior co-participation for every team. Groups (communities) within teams can be isolated, brokered, or folded (coupled without losing their distinctive identities). Recognizing that a cultural product can be innovative (distinctive) without being critical successful and a critical success without being distinctive, the study constructs four dependent variables 1) does the game stand out? (i.e., is it stylistically distinctive?) 2) does it get reviewed at all? 3) is it recognized by critics as outstanding, and 4) is it a gamechanger (i.e., is it distinctive and outstanding?).

David Stark is Arthur Lehman Professor of Sociology and International Affairs at Columbia University where he directs the Center on Organizational Innovation.  His most recent book, The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life, was published by Princeton University Press in 2009. To study the organizational basis for innovation, he has carried out ethnographic field research in Hungarian factories before and after 1989, in new media start-ups in Manhattan before and after the dot.com crash, and in a World Financial Center trading room before and after the attack on September 11th. Stark is also conducting historical network analysis.  What is a social group across time in network terms?   Supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, Stark and his former student Balazs Vedres are analyzing a large, longitudinal dataset on the ownership ties, personnel ties, and political ties of the largest 2,200 Hungarian enterprises from 1987-2006.  Publications from this project include: Structural Folds:Generative Disruption in Overlapping Groups, American Journal of Sociology 2010; and Social Times of Network Spaces: Network Sequences and Foreign Investment in Hungary, American Journal of Sociology, 2006. Areas of interest: Economic Sociology, Sociology of Innovation, Democratization and Organizational Change in Postsocialist Eastern Europe.