Title: A probabilistic switch model of information flow in social networks: application of virtual circuits to organisational design

Authors: Ross Barnard, John Kapeleris, Damian Hine

Addresses: Biotechnology Program,School of Molecular and Microbial Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia. ' Australian Institute for Commercialisation, Eight Mile Plains, Queensland 4113, Australia. ' School of Business, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia

Abstract: Network building and exchange of information by people within networks is crucial to the innovation process. Contrary to older models, in social networks the flow of information is noncontinuous and nonlinear. There are critical barriers to information flow that operate in a probabilistic manner. New models and new analytic tools are needed for these systems. This paper introduces the concept of virtual circuits and draws on recent concepts of network modelling and design to introduce a probabilistic switch theory that can be described using matrices. It can be used to model multistep information flow between people within organisational networks, to provide formal definitions of efficient and balanced networks and to describe distortion of information as it passes along human communication channels. The concept of multi-dimensional information space arises naturally from the use of matrices. The theory and the use of serial diagonal matrices have applications to organisational design and to the modelling of other systems. It is hypothesised that opinion leaders or creative individuals are more likely to emerge at information-rich nodes in networks. A mathematical definition of such nodes is developed and it does not invariably correspond with centrality as defined by early work on networks.

Keywords: social networks; virtual circuits; organisational design; probabilistic switch theory; matrix; knowledge; communication; innovation; nonlinearity; intellectual gravitation; information flow; technology transfer; information exchange; network modelling; network design; organisational networks.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTTC.2006.008651

International Journal of Technology Transfer and Commercialisation, 2006 Vol.5 No.1/2, pp.4 - 30

Published online: 13 Jan 2006 *

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