Managing Social Networks in Organizations, MBA Syllabus

This course is designed to improve your effectiveness as a manager by introducing you to the science of social network analysis. Over the 8 sessions that make up the course, you will learn how to:

  • Evaluate and optimize your own networks for acquiring novel information, exercising influence, and creating value for others.
  • Use networks to assess the reputation, trustworthiness and capabilities of others.
  • Visualize networks within an organization and understand where value lies, power lies, and how to create new value where it is most needed.
  • Understand how to see organizational and business data through the lens of network analysis, and improve the signal-to-noise ratio for sorting through the massive data collected by today’s organizations.

Course Requirements


May 8, Seeing Networks Clearly

This session gives you a cheat-sheet to understanding social networks in organizations. Before the class begins, I would recommend reading two articles that will provide you a good over view of the basic things about networks that every manager should know.

Required reading:

May 12, How to Build an Entrepreneurial Network

One of the most important insights about networks is the idea of structural holes. Bridging valuable, but unfilled, holes in social and economic life is the key to creating value for yourself and others. In this class you will learn about how value is created by bridging the “white space” or holes in organizations and markets, and examine whether your networks have ample structural holes.

Required reading:

Assignment 1 Due: Understanding your Network

May 15, Creating Friendships at the World’s Largest Network, Sean Taylor, Facebook

Guest speaker: Sean Taylor, a Research Scientist at Facebook and a leading expert on viral marketing will join us to talk about how he and his team at Facebook use data science and network ideas at Facebook to create value for billions of users world wide.

Required reading:

  • TBD

May 19, Creating Value Through Cross-border M&A, Sanat Rao, IDG Ventures

Guest speaker: Sanat Rao, Partner at IDG Ventures

In 2013, Sanat Rao quit his job as Director of Corporate Business Development at Intel and took a big leap of faith to work for a 1-year old non-profit in India. Mr. Rao will join us in class to talk about how he jump started M&A activity between US companies and Indian startups and helped broker the sale of under-the-radar Indian startups to US giants such as Facebook and Yahoo!.

Required reading:

May 22, Taking the Microscope to your Company

Guest speaker: Steven Huang, Strategist at CultureAmp

Seeing how your organization works might seem like an onerous task, but anyone can do it if they get the right buy-in from the firm and the employees. In this session you will learn how capture and analyze the networks in a company, interpret their structure, and see value where others might not. Steven Huang of the startup CultureAmp will share with us his experiences conducting surveys within organizations at scale and how CultureAmp has been helping companies make the best use of their talent.

Required reading: 

  • Cross and Parker (2004), Chapter 5 —Pinpointing the Problem: Understanding How Individuals Affect a Network
  • Cross & Parker (2004), Appendix A & B—Conducting and Interpreting a Social Network Analysis.

Assignment 2 Due: Creating value for others

May 26, Hidden Value in Data.

In this class we learn the building blocks of a network approach to data science that has transformed modern business. The topics we will cover include: making product recommendations, understanding social influence on the web, effectively using the “crowd” to scale work. Guest speakers Rishab Ladha and Greg Schwartz of SquadRun will talk about how their company leverages two of the biggest innovations today, crowdsourced labor and machine learning, to dramatically optimize challenging business processes.

Guest speakers: Rishab Ladha and Greg Schwartz, SquadRun.

Required reading:

May 29, Memorial Day.

Enjoy Memorial Day!

June 2, Pulse and Beyond, Ankit Gupta, Co-founder of Pulse

Guest speaker: Ankit Gupta, co-founder of Pulse and later the Senior Product Manager of Pulse after its acquisition by LinkedIn will talk about his experiences founding Pulse and his learnings from rapidly scaling one of the hottest mobile apps and subsequently integrating it into the product offerings of an established player.

Reading: With surprise boost from Steve Jobs, news app is a hit.

June 5, Final Projects

Students present learnings from the network analysis of the companies/organizations they consulted for.


Stanford University
Graduate School of Business

OB522, Spring (Second half) 2017

Professor: Sharique Hasan, Associate Prof. of Organizational Behavior, Stanford GSB
Office: W239 (KMC, Stanford, CA)
Email: [firstname]


The Hidden Power of Social Networks: Understanding How Work Really Gets Done in Organizations (Robert Cross & Andrew Parker), 2004.

Driving Results Through Social Networks: How Top Organizations Leverage Networks for Performance and Growth (Cross and Thomas), 2009.

Teaching Assistant: Solene Delecourt, [firstnamelastinitial]

Times: Monday/Friday from 10:00 to 11:45 AM
Room: GSB Class of 1968, Room 102


2 thoughts on “Managing Social Networks in Organizations, MBA Syllabus

  1. Pingback: Everyone should learn about social networks – sharique hasan

  2. Pingback: Social Networks, Innovation and Entrepreneurship – sharique hasan

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