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25 October 2011: Social Network study wins €1 million grant

Person using Facebook on tablet computer

A University of Essex economist has won a €1 million grant to study the economics of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Professor Andrea Galeotti will use the funding from the European Research Council to develop a theory which could help both companies and governments.

Using mathematical modelling, Professor Galeotti will map how social networks evolve and how they influence social and economic interaction. He hopes Governments may be able to use the results in order to influence behaviour – for example by making more effective use of health education messages. The research should also help companies to understand how social networks influence spending decisions, and how different products tend to be discussed in these settings.

“New data, along with advances in the internet, allow us to map and understand these networks,” Prof Galeotti said. “In particular, my project will focus on explaining how informal organisations, such as social networks, interact with formal institutions such as markets or internal organisations. At the base of any market economy is trust, and social networks are fundamental to building trust.”

The study will also look at the design of effective communication networks within organisations, in order to optimise the co-ordination of different tasks in a changing environment, and to ease the communication difficulties which can be caused by conflicting interests within organisations.

For more information please contact Professor Galeotti on agaleo@essex.ac.uk or Fran Abrams, Communications Officer, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Essex on fabrams@essex.ac.uk or call 01206 873684 (landline) or 07939 262001 (mobile).

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