Indirect ties in knowledge networks
: a social network analysis with ordered weighted averaging operators

  • Marianna Marra

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This PhD thesis analyses networks of knowledge flows, focusing on the role of indirect ties in the knowledge transfer, knowledge accumulation and knowledge creation process. It extends and improves existing methods for mapping networks of knowledge flows in two different applications and contributes to two stream of research.
To support the underlying idea of this thesis, which is finding an alternative method to rank indirect network ties to shed a new light on the dynamics of knowledge transfer, we apply Ordered Weighted Averaging (OWA) to two different network contexts. Knowledge flows in patent citation networks and a company supply chain network are analysed using Social Network Analysis (SNA) and the OWA operator. The OWA is used here for the first time (i) to rank indirect citations in patent networks, providing new insight into their role in transferring knowledge among network nodes; and to analyse a long chain of patent generations along 13 years; (ii) to rank indirect relations in a company supply chain network, to shed light on the role of indirectly connected individuals involved in the knowledge transfer and creation processes and to contribute to the literature on knowledge management in a supply chain. In doing so, indirect ties are measured and their role as means of knowledge transfer is shown. Thus, this thesis represents a first attempt to bridge the OWA and SNA fields and to show that the two methods can be used together to enrich the understanding of the role of indirectly connected nodes in a network. More specifically, the OWA scores enrich our understanding of knowledge evolution over time within complex networks. Future research can show the usefulness of OWA operator in different complex networks, such as the on-line social networks that consists of thousand of nodes.
Date of Award2 Mar 2015
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAli Emrouznejad (Supervisor) & John Edwards (Supervisor)


  • indirect ties
  • knowledge flows
  • networks
  • social network analysis
  • ordered weighted averaging operator

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