lectureThis is the personal website of Balázs Vedres, Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, director of the Center for Network Science at Central European University. I teach sociology at CEU since January 2004. My primary interests are economic sociology, social networks, historical sociology, postsocialism, and methods. I received my PhD degree in sociology from Columbia University.

You can read my current CV, download papers and manuscripts, read about current research projects. This is my academia.edu page.

e-mail: vedresb@gmail.com, phone: +(36-1) 327 3000 / ext.2606, fax: +(36-1) 328-3501

 

News

Our new volume is published by Cambridge University Press October 2012. Network science is the key to managing social communities, designing the structure of efficient organizations and planning for sustainable development. This book applies network science to contemporary social policy problems. In the first part, tools of diffusion and team design are deployed to challenges in adoption of ideas and the management of creativity. Ideas, unlike information, are generated and adopted in networks of personal ties. Chapters in the second part tackle problems of power and malfeasance in political and business organizations, where mechanisms in accessing and controlling informal networks often outweigh formal processes. The third part uses ideas from biology and physics to understand global economic and financial crises, ecological depletion and challenges to energy security. Ideal for researchers and policy makers involved in social network analysis, business strategy and economic policy, it deals with issues ranging from what makes public advisories effective to how networks influence excessive executive compensation..

Center for Network Science: January 2009.I started organizing a new research center at CEU last spring. The center received support from the university - a pilot grant to start operations. With a postdoctoral research fellow, Marco Scotti (an Italian ecologist, researcher of food webs) we started to set up operations at the center. We are organizing a conference for June 2009 (June 17-18: "The Unexpected Link"), and we applied for two major European research grants so far. We set up a website for the center: http://web2.ceu.hu/cns.

 

 

 

Awards: November 2011. I was awarded the 2011 Karoly Polanyi Prize for Best Journal Article of the Hungarian Sociological Association, for our article with David Stark, "Structural Folds: Generative Disruption in Overlapping Groups," American Journal of Sociology, vol. 115, no. 4 (January 2010) pages 1150-1190.

 

October 2011. I was awarded the 2011 EAS Prize for Best Article of the European Academy of Sociology, for our article with David Stark, "Structural Folds: Generative Disruption in Overlapping Groups," American Journal of Sociology, vol. 115, no. 4 (January 2010) pages 1150-1190.

 

June 2011. I was awarded the 2011 Roger V. Gould Prize for our article with David Stark, "Structural Folds: Generative Disruption in Overlapping Groups," American Journal of Sociology, vol. 115, no. 4 (January 2010) pages 1150-1190. The prize will be presented as the winners at the AJS editors’ luncheon at this year’s ASA meetings in Las Vegas (Sunday, August 21, 2011). The award committee (the AJS editorial board) noted that: "While eligible papers were drawn from 72 AJS articles published over a two-year period, the list of contenders was eventually narrowed down to eight finalists, all of them very fine papers. The AJS editorial board was impressed by your use of real world data to isolate key structural features of networks likely to generate innovation and creativity. The argument is theoretically rich and analytically meticulous; it lays bare important features of networks of entrepreneurial collaboration while offering, more generally, a compelling story about the dynamism of social groups. And specifically we liked the fact that you are trying to push networks towards dynamism. The paper may not have all the answers, but it is bold and ambitious. We’re very pleased to offer this article special recognition."

 

May 2011. I was awarded the Viviana Zelizer Award for best article in economic sociology, given annually by the Economic Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association, for our article with David Stark, "Structural Folds: Generative Disruption in Overlapping Groups," American Journal of Sociology, vol. 115, no. 4 (January 2010) pages 1150-1190.. A plaque recognizing this award will be presented to each of you at the Section' reception during the forthcoming ASA meetings in Las Vegas. This will take place on Monday, August 22nd between 6:00 and 8:00 P.M

 

May 2009. I was awarded the W. Richard Scott Award for Distinguished Scholarship for our article with David Stark, "Social Times of Network Spaces: Network Sequences and Foreign Investment in Hungary," American Journal of Sociology, vol. 111, no. 5 (March 2006) pages 1367-1411. The W. Richard Scott Award for Distinguished Scholarship is granted by the Organizations, Occupations, and Work section of the American Sociological Association, for an outstanding contribution to the discipline in an article on organizations, occupations and work published within the last three years. The awad committee noted that: "With a high number of excellent submissions, the winning paper stood out for its creative and original analysis of evolving organizational networks in a changing historical context. Stark and Vedres develop a highly innovative social sequence analysis to chart the changing network positions of 1,696 firms during a period (1987-2001) of rapidly increasing foreign ownership in Hungary. Their findings indicate the important and potentially positive role of foreign ownership in rapidly developing economies, with broad implications for our understanding of globalization and social change." The award will be given at the joint OOW-Econ Soc reception at the ASA, Monday August 10th between 6:30 and 8:30 PM in the Hilton Hotel

 

Research: June 2011. Our research proposal “How Network Structures Explain Creativity” to the US National Science Foundation was supported by a grant of 159 000 USD.

 

April 2009. Reviews for my research porposal, "Intercohesion: The social network foundations of innovation." (full proposal text, part B2 here) are back from the European Research Council. I submit this proposal to the ERC Starting Grant. These reviews offer an interesting comparison of European (at least ERC) proposal evaluation, and the review process of proposals in the US. You can access the ERC reviews here. This was a grant proposal for EUR 1 million. For the sake of comparison, you can also see reviews that a project of mine with similar size has received from the National Science Foundation, USA. You can download that project description here.

 

Papers: January 2010. Our article "Structural Folds: Generative Disruption in Overlapping Groups" is published at the American Journal of Sociology. The article is in the 2010 January issue (vol. 115, no 4).

 

March 2010. We have completed a new manuscript with Laszlo Bruszt: "Local developmental agency from without". Decades of increase in external aid programs sparked a wide range of criticisms pointing to misaligned interests, lack of accountability, and the reproduction of developmental traps. The success of development from without is more likely if it generates domestic developmental agency. In this article, we contribute by conceptualizing and measuring dimensions of developmental agency. Our research analyzes the strategic case of European Union regional development programs in Eastern Europe, where this external organization spent nearly a decade on establishing local developmental agency. We collected survey data of 1200 local organizations from two regions in each of Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. We examine the post-accession position of organizations that participated in pre-accession assistance programs. We test a hypothesis of marginalization in the framework of recentralized developmental governance, and we examine links between patterns of pre-accession involvement and post-accession developmental agency. We identify factors that might make external developmental programs more likely to foster local developmental agency.

 

October 2008.We revised "Opening Closure: Intercohesion and Entrepreneurial Dynamics in Business Groups." The twinned challenge for entrepreneurial groups is recognizing new ideas and implementing them. In one view, connectivity reaching outside the group channels new ideas while closure makes it possible to act on them. We argue that entrepreneurship is not about importing information but about generating new knowledge through recombining resources. In contrast to the brokerage-plus-closure perspective, we identify a distinctive network position, intercohesion, at the overlap of cohesive group structures. The multiple insiders at this intercohesive position participate in dense cohesive ties that provide close familiarity with the operations of the members in their group. But because they are members of multiple cohesive groups, they have familiar access to diverse resources. We first test whether intercohesion contributes to higher group performance. Second, because entrepreneurship is a process of creative disruption, we test intercohesion’s contribution to group instability. Third, moving from dynamic methods to historical network analysis, we demonstrate that coherence is a property of interwoven lineages of cohesion built up through separating and reuniting in an ongoing pattern of interweaving by which business groups manage instability while benefitting from intercohesion. To study the evolution of business groups, our dataset records personnel ties among the largest 1,696 Hungarian enterprises from 1987-2001.

 

June 2008. The Politics of Civic Combinations appeared in Voluntas. In this paper we explore the ways in which partnerships with the state within state-led developmental programs might effect the autonomy of civic organizations and their readiness to enter in political action. We did not find support for the theses that mixing with the state might undermine the autonomy of COs and lead to their political neutralization. Also, we did not find support for the hypotheses that political action is solely about money or it is the property of non autonomous NGOs. We have identified several mechanisms that allow COs to combine participation in partnership projects with maintained autonomy and political activism.

 

February 2007. Pathways from Postsocialism appeared in European Management Review. In this article I demonstrate that relational strategies devised to buffer uncertainties of social change are vulnerable to subsequent path dependencies. The literature of postsocialism is divided about the significance ofpathways from sequences intermediate ownership forms for subsequent market consolidation. To identify path dependencies I analyze the ownership sequences and performance of the 200 largest Hungarian firms in 1999. I use optimal matching analysis to identify pathways, and dynamic scaling analysis to delimit ownership regimes. I test hypotheses about path dependencies by regression models of performance. Network forms buffered uncertainties between 1992 and 1995, contributing to high labor and capital efficiency. After this period domestic network forms locked firms in, leading to inferior performance compared to manager buy-outs, domestic subsidiaries, and foreign owned firms. Joint ventures on the other hand provided protection and later the option for concentrating ownership, outperforming other pathways.

 

June 2006. "Rooted transnational publics: Integrating foreign ties and civic activism" appeared in Theory and Society, Volume 35, Number 3. Abstract: Can civic organizations be both locally rooted and globally connected? Based on a survey of 1,002 of the largest civic organizations in Hungary, we conclude that there is not a forced choice between foreign ties and domestic integration. By studying variation in types of foreign interactions and variation in types of domestic integration, our analysis goes beyond notions of footloose experts versus rooted cosmopolitans. Organizations differ in their rootedness according to whether they have ties to their members and constituents, whether they have ties to other organizations in the civic sector, and whether they associate with actors from outside the civic sector. Similarly, we specify different types of foreign ties. In both domains our emphasis is on the type of action involved in the tie–especially relations of accountability and partnership. By demonstrating a systematic relationship between the patterns of foreign ties and the patterns of domestic integration, we chart three emerging forms of transnational publics.

 

May 2006. Our article, "Social Times of Network Spaces", co-authored with David Stark, appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Vol 111, no 5. (Here is a link to the PDF version from the AJS electronic edition.) In this article we model, from its inception, inter-enterprise network formation and its interaction with foreign investment across an entire epoch of rapid and profound economic transformation, we gathered data on sequence analysis outputthe complete ownership histories of 1,696 of the largest Hungarian enterprises from 1987to 2001. We develop a combination of network and sequence analysis to identify distinctive pathways whereby firms use network resources to buffer uncertainty, hide or restructure assets, or gain knowledge and legitimacy. During this period, networked property grew, stabilized, and involved a growing proportion of foreign capital. Cohesive networks of recombinant property were robust, and in fact integrated foreign investment. Although multinationals, through their subsidiaries, dissolved ties in joint venture arrangements, we find evidence that they also built durable networks. Our findings suggest that developing economies do not necessarily face a forced choice between networks of global reach and those of local embeddedness.

 

October 2005. My article on the potential of accountability in research and academic life in the European Union "The social structure of research accountability: Regimes of worth, claims of representation, and networks of accountability in research" has appeared in Foresight Europe no. 2. The real accountability issue is not just how public money is spent, but whether science is helping to further sustainable development. Answering this question requires us to consider the interplay between the different ways we value things, the different people who claim the right to attach values, and the different ways they connect to each other. Research is at the intersection of several regimes that might conflict. All of the dimensions along which research is typically held accountable can be justified in a credible way, but creativity should remain the most important dimension of accountability. Rather than seeking to suppress conflicts, we must look for innovative combinations of dimensions of accountability. Research projects that are accountable to many standards are preferable, because they make research a factor of social integration.

 

January 2005. Our article "Organizing Technologies: Genre Forms of Online Civic Association in Eastern Europe" with Laszo Bruszt and David Stark appeared in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. This is the abstract: How do civic associations in Eastern Europe organize themselves online? Based on data collected on 1,585 East European civil society Web sites, the authors identify fivecorrespondance analysis of websites emergent genres of organizing technologies: newsletters, interactive platforms, multilingual solicitations, directories, and brochures. These clusters do not correspond to stages of development. Moreover, newer Web sites are more likely to be typical of their genre,suggesting that forms are becoming more distinctive. In contrast to the utopian image of a de-territorialized, participatory global civil society, the authors’ examination of the structure of hyperlinks finds that transnational types of Web sites are not inclined to be participatory. Whereas other paradigms focus on inequality of users’ online access, the authors probe inequality in the accessibility of Web sites to potential users through search engine technology and show how this varies across different types of civil society Web sites.

 

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