Ron Burt, University of Chicago

Network-Related Personality and the Agency Question: Multi-role Evidence from a Virtual World

December 6, 2012 | 3:00pm - 4:30pm | Cotting Conference Room | Open to public


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Technology & Operations Management Unit

Digital Initiative

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Consistency across role-specific networks in a multi-role network reveals the recurring network-related personality a person brings to the roles she plays. The more consistent the role-specific networks, and the more important that consistency is for achievement, the more important agency is for understanding achievement. Using network, experience, and achievement data on people each playing multiple characters in a virtual world, evidence is presented to support two conclusions: (1) About a third of network variance is consistent within people across roles. In other words, people who build a closed network in one role are likely to build a closed network in other roles. People who build in one role a network rich in access to structural holes, are likely to do the same in other roles. (2) The network consistent across roles contributes almost nothing to predicting achievement. Achievement in a role is determined by experience and network specific to the role (about 90% of predicted achievement variance). The two conclusions are robust across substantively significant differences in the mix of roles combined in a multi-role network (too many roles, difficult combination of roles, or roles played to overlapping audiences). People tend to build similar networks in the roles they play, but their achievement in a specific role depends on experience in the specific role, and the network they build in the role.​