Understanding the social dimension of knowledge through complex network analysis

Research output: ThesisPhd Thesis 4 Research NOT TU/e / Graduation NOT TU/e)


This thesis presents five studies on the social dimension of knowledge, with a focus on its creation and diffusion processes. Broadly speaking, the creation and diffusion of knowledge are phenomena inherent to human society as a whole. In this sense, the results of the works in this thesis can be relevant and applicable in several social domains. However, the main focus of this work is on ideas rather than specific information and opinions. A working example that has been used through the chapters in this thesis is the dynamics of scientific ideas: how they are conceived, adopted and diffused within scientific environments. The chapters shed light on various aspects of knowledge creation and diffusion, which can be considered in the following sequence. First, researchers collaborate to produce scientific output (Chapter 2). Subsequently, this knowledge diffuses amid the scientific community (Chapter 3). In particular, researchers working on novel ideas and heterodox approaches strive to overturn established theories (Chapter 4). If they succeed, they create breakthrough advancements in science, which sometimes experience delayed recognition. In such a case, they are called sleeping beauties (Chapter 5). Finally, Chapter 6 sheds empirical light on the division of labor in industries rather than in scientific knowledge production, as it can be mapped by data on a variety of professions. Though here the context is industrial, it does deal with the distributed nature of knowledge production (compare Chapter 2). All studies highlight that network-theoretical concepts can be applied fruitfully both theoretically and empirically as to understand knowledge creation and diffusion.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • Frenken, Koen, Promotor, External person
  • Azagra-Caro, J.M., Copromotor, External person
  • Zeppini, P., Copromotor, External person
Award date23 May 2016
Place of PublicationUtrecht
Print ISBNs978-94-629-5400-7
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2016


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