An original KÖZGAZDÁSZ ONLINE post.
Networks are all around us, may they be the spreading routes of epidemics, collaborations between organizations or sharing knowledge among team members. The area is on a dynamic developmental curve and plays a key role in most scientific disciplines. We talked to Máté Baksa about networks. He is the student at the Corvinus Doctoral School of Business and Management who works with networks and is going to do research at Yale University for five months starting in September.
You will be a Fulbright fellow from September on. Why did you pick Yale?
The Fulbright Fellowship is a bilateral program, operated jointly by the US and the Hungarian governments. Its aim is to help Hungarian researchers take study trips in the US, as well as to welcome US researchers in Hungary. More than 160 countries take part in the Fellowship, so it is available internationally. The scholarship may be awarded at both Master’s and PhD levels, the winners are chosen by a committee.
I picked Yale for the venue of my US studies because it hosts the Yale Institute for Network Science which has many teams researching networks that I would like to see. I also want to improve professionally and methodologically – I will be honored to be able to learn from the best. During my time there I want to finish my PhD, and, if I can, join the research activities there.
How do you think you will be able to get by? How much of your expenses are covered by the grant?
The Fulbright Fellowship divides the United States into different zones according to living expenses and the grant sum is determined accordingly. As far as I know, this should suffice. Also, on top of living expenses flight tickets, books and health insurance are covered too.
Why did you specialize in network science in the first place?
A lot of scientific areas from linguistics to quantum physics apply the network approach. The biggest benefit of this approach is that is can signal covert correspondences, ones that we otherwise would not see, and is able to handle a large amount of data. We live in a world where we are surrounded by more and more data. We have realized that things are interrelated, and areas that we separated until now are getting connected.
Just think about the events of the recent past. If there is an epidemic outbreak in China, it will spread around the globalized world immediately. People will experience it right away in their own personal lives, either directly, or through economic processes. Production will stop, or people will have to work from home. Network effects and rules are very similar to the spread of epidemics and technological innovations. This means they help us to understand both positive and negative phenomena.
Is network science gaining such significance in other areas, too?
Network theories have been popular in social sciences for a while, but researchers use them in natural sciences as well. We keep gaining more and more useful data which provide us with more and more patterns and regularities that we can notice, and these offer further explanations.
What is your narrower field of interest?
I research organizations, I am interested in how they work. I study organizational networks, that is, how people are connected to each other, how they cooperate, how they share knowledge, how they form friendships and trusting relationships. In the end, this is interesting because we can use this information as a diagnostic tool: we will have a better understanding of how organizations work, and will be able to make better executive decisions.
Máté Baksa started his Bachelor’s studies at the Business Administration and Management Programme and continued at the Institute of Management’s Master’s programme. He is currently the student of the Corvinus Doctoral School of Business and Management and teaches and does research at the Institute of Management.
What are your research topics?
One of the more intriguing topics for me is the role of negative relationships in organizational networks. Many network scientists study positive relationships but ignore the negative ones. However, we all see that in our everyday lives, including the workplace we may be involved in many negative ties. We may have conflicts and co-workers that we are not very happy with. These factors sometimes have a very strong influence on the daily operations of the organization, especially when they hinder important cooperation.
I am also interested in how organizations learn and how workers share knowledge among each other. There is a lot of know how that you cannot depict in a book or make it otherwise explicit, but you must learn it from co-workers. Network analysis helps you here, too. For example, we may look at how innovation is born and spreads across the organization. Organizations learn too, and their main aim is to have the knowledge ready whenever and wherever needed. Studying knowledge networks is the focus of scientific research all over the world.
Do you see network analysis anywhere else at Corvinus?
Many scholars at Corvinus do network-based research. Sociologists study social networks, the Institute of Business Economics research supply chains, focusing mostly on cross-organizational networks. In the Institute of Economic and Public Policy they investigate the networks of local municipalities, civic and non-governmental organizations. The focus here is not on humans but innovational networks among organizations. There are many more examples even in finances or banking, network analysis is a really versatile area of science. (photo: pixabay)
What is your advice for those junior students who would like to do research? Are there any opportunities for them?
Absolutely. I joined research activities when I did my Bachelor’s, and that is when I got interested in becoming a scholar. I learnt a lot from my connections to the work of other departments as a teaching assistant. Many research teams of scholarships are currently seeking students to work with, so they still have such opportunities.
The Scientific Students’ Conference (TDK) movement is also a great opportunity for individual research and study. Corvinus students do very well here each year, and another good thing about it is that everybody can find their most favorite topic.
The New National Excellence program has also been running for some years now and offers young scientists scholarships on many levels. They accept individual research applications and the grant provides finances for both literature-based and empirical research.
So, there are many opportunities. I wish everyone who is interested a topic that really sparks their interest, and, off they go!
By Máté Kovács
Cover photo: pexels.com