Multilevel Mechanisms for the Study of Scientific Networks: Mesolevel social forces in a (not so small) network for the stability of a national scientific field

Alejandro Espinosa-Rada, Elisa Bellotti


Organizations are relevant for the development of scientific networks, and some competing multilevel micro-mechanisms reveal how the connections within and between scientists emerge. In this paper, we investigate the relationships of scientist and organizations exploring four cross-level micro-mechanisms in a (not so small) network. These four micro-mechanisms are often discussed in the scientific network perspective, organizational studies and the sociology of science literature. They are motivated by the theory of invisible colleges, the theory of brokers, the theory of the triple helix, and the theory of competitive advantages in dual positions. To disentangle the complexity of the network we use a stationary multilevel cross-sectional stochastic actor-oriented model (SAOM) for the study of this (not so small) network, which allows us to distinguish the interdependency citations within scientists, and the ties between scientists and organizations. Also, we explore a structural reduction approach through the use of snowball samplings and conditional estimations to handle the size of the network (~1,000). Our result reveals the relevance of multilevel mechanisms that are often not considered in the explanation of scientific networks. The findings give input about intermediary institutions such as astronomical consortiums, scientific university department, scientific and research centres, and their interconnections with researchers in the development of a national scientific system.

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