Innovation is a social process, meaning all organisations that are seeking to innovate — whether large or small, public or private — can't afford to ignore social networks. Understanding the structures and dynamics of these networks – ‘it’s who you know as well as what you know’ – allows organisations to identify and mitigate the barriers to innovation.

Social Network Research Lab (SNRL)

We are a world-leader in the development and application of cutting-edge statistical models for social networks. As part of the Centre for Transformative Innovation, we have access to unique datasets and computational facilities supported by world-leading data scientists. We develop a better understanding of the relationships and social processes that occur within and between people in organisations and answer questions such as:

  • What is an effective alignment of informal social networks and formal organisational structures on innovation performance?
  • How do we effectively transfer knowledge in geographically dispersed organisations?
  • How is the culture of organisations influenced by informal social networks?

We use Social Network Analysis (SNA) to visually map networks as well as statistically model networks to identify the structural patterns that such maps may not make clear. In doing so, our team provides unparalleled insights into networks. Our network techniques provide decision-makers with an evidence base from which they can pursue targeted interventions for their organisation or community.

The Social Network Research Lab is a founding member of the Australian Network for Social Network Analysis (ANSNA), a community that aims to build greater coordination and collaboration among social network researchers and practitioners in Australia and overseas. We’re also one of two nodes of Melnet, the Melbourne-based consortium of universities expert in social network analysis.

Research areas

Networks and organisations

Innovation is a social process, so we use social network analysis to understand the informal social interactions between people that underpin innovation, knowledge transfer and effective collaborations within organisations.

Network effectiveness and network intervention

Relationships matter, but how? Network effectiveness focuses on how different network structures are effective for various goals and how they are important for the organisations and communities in which these networks are embedded. How we make changes to networks is through network interventions — by changing social ties, for example, due to COVID-19 and social distancing. Network methods and statistical network models New insights to networks come from the development of new methods. These new methods must be based on real and appropriate theories of how the world works. We develop state-of-the-art statistical models for social networks that bring method and theory closer together so that we can apply these models for maximum insight and impact.

Find out more about statistic network models.

COVID-19 spread in Melbourne 2020: Waves 1 and 2

An image of the COVID-19 spread through Melbourne during the early stages of Wave 2

See an animation that demonstrates the speed and far reach of COVID-19 spread throughout the community from March to October 2020 and is a stark reminder to Victorians to continue to practice physical distancing and follow isolation/quarantine orders. The animation was created by Dr Peng Wang, Professor Dean Lusher and Dr Giovanni Radhitio Sadewo and commuissioned by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

Find out more

Research projects

The Social Network Research Lab has a range of current and past projects.

Current research projects:

Previous projects:

Research team

Name Position Research area
Peng Wang CTI Associate Director Networks methods and statistical network models
Dean Lusher Professor of Innovation Studies Networks and organisations; network effectiveness; network intervention
James Coutinho Research Fellow Networks and organisations; organisation studies; business management
Maedeh Aboutalebi Karkavandi Research Fellow Networks and organisations (education and wellbeing); network effectiveness; network intervention; social capita
Bopha Roden Research Fellow Networks and organisations (innovation); networks and marketing
Giovanni Radhitio Putra Sadewo
Research Fellow
Networks and organisations
John Webb Professorial Fellow Networks and organisations
Thomas Spurling Professorial Fellow Networks and organisations
Michael Gilding Adjunct Professor Networks and organisations; networked innovation; network dynamics and diffusion
Garry Robins Adjunct Professor Network methods and statistical network models; network effectiveness and network intervention; networks and organisations
Julia Brennecke Adjunct Researcher Networks and organisations
Till Klein Adjunct Researcher Networks and organisations; network dynamics and diffusion
Colin Gallagher
Adjunct Researcher
Networks and mental health
Jean-Francois Desvignes PhD candidate Networks and organisations (innovation); knowledge networks
Adam Finch PhD candidate Networks and organisations
Sarah King PhD candidate Networks and organisations (innovation)
Andrew Terhorst PhD candidate Networks and organisations
Harry Toukalas PhD candidate Networks and organisations

Explore our other research themes

Contact the Centre for Transformative Innovation

There are many ways to engage with us. Whether you’re a PhD student, from the media or an organisation looking to form a partnership, contact the Centre on +61 3 9214 4861 or via cti@swinburne.edu.au.

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