Schalowski, Jan and Christian Barrot (2017)


in: Bijmolt, Tammo, Koert van Ittersum, Peter Verhoef and Jaap Wieringa (ed.): 46th EMAC Annual Conference: Leaving Footprints , European Marketing Academy: Groningen, (2017).

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Abstract: This paper critically examines the prevailing practice in empirical studies of social networks to define edges in communication networks as undirected. This approach is based on the assumption that communication is inherently reciprocal and, thus, directionality can be ignored. In contrast, we argue that this assumption of reciprocity does not hold true for regular communication channels, such as telephone or instant massaging. The present study uses large-scale observational data on communication in networks across four distinct channels to investigate the (im-)balance of dyads and its causes. We show that dyads with a dominant direction can make up to 73 % of all edges in a communication network. When analyzing potential causes for imbalanced communication patterns, we find that gender is a key driver for observed asymmetric relationships as females reveal significantly higher outbound shares, whereas high degrees of clustering counteract the phenomenon of imbalance.

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