Unpacking centrality and capacity in inter-organizational environmental networks

Patrick Bixler

Contact: rpbixler@utexas.edu

The role of network centrality on organizations is multi-dimensional. In this research, we empirically examine the relationship between network centrality and organizational capacity. Results show different effects related to degree, closeness, and betweenness centrality on organizational capacity. Perhaps more interesting, we examine situations when these three centrality measures are not strongly correlated, which provides unique insights about this network of environmental organizations. This research is set in the sagebrush biome of the United States Intermountain West, which stretches across thirteen western American states. The Sagebrush ecosystem faces constant threat from habitat fragmentation, invasive plants, altered fire regimes, exurban development, and other disturbances. The past couple of decades have seen vast advances in biological and ecological research of the sagebrush system, yet research on governance, capacity, and human dimensions has lagged significantly behind. Our survey (N=252) collected three forms of data: (1) qualitative data regarding organizational perspectives on opportunities and challenges for collaboration, (2) quantitative metrics of organizational capacity for collaborating and learning; and (3) network data regarding a survey respondent (organization’s) sagebrush conservation partners (and the resulting network). Our multiplex network data set includes data 19 different issue-based relations that connection organizations across the biome. Our analysis integrates latent constructs of organizational capacity and network data through a multiple model approach and regression techniques. The findings suggest nuanced ways to differentiate and conceptualize the effect of popular centrality measures on organizations. Moreover, we identify unique situations where organizational centrality measures are not highly correlated and develop theoretical explanations of the implications at both the organizational and network level.

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