Network and Complexity Initiative


Networks are important to both individuals and organizations. At the individual level, networks provide social support. At the organizational level, they provide services and facilitate information sharing, problem solving and capacity building.

Organizational level

Increasingly, public and nonprofit organizations are required to collaborate or network in order to deliver services or be competitive for grants. Organizations also network to solve problems, share information and build community capacity. One of our foci is how these networks come to be and how they can most effectively achieve their objectives.

Using the techniques of social network analysis and drawing upon complexity theory, Center for Applied Community Research and Development researchers help interorganizational networks answer questions such as:

  • How well do the members of this network share information?
  • How can we better coordinate service delivery?
  • How do we build trust among network participants?
  • How can we build upon our strengths to overcome our weaknesses?
  • How can we sustain our network over time?

CACRD researchers work with networks to help them discover and develop their full potential.

Individual level

Individual social support networks can have important effects on health, educational achievement, level of civic engagement and overall well-being. Understanding their clients’ social support networks can help public and nonprofit organizations diagnose problems, prescribe interventions and interpret program outcomes designed to influence individuals’ behaviors.

Using social network analysis, CACRD researchers help organizations answer the following types of questions:

  • How do the social support networks of ninth graders affect their ability to transition from middle to high school?
  • Is obesity contagious?
  • Can we predict where highly mobile clients will move based on their social networks?
  • Can we increase satisfaction levels of local area professionals by increasing their opportunities for professional interaction, and therefore reduce “brain drain”?

CACRD researchers work with organizations to help them use information about social support networks to design, implement and evaluate programs.

Current Projects

Center City Coordination (C3) Sustainability Project

Overview: CACRD researchers are working with the Center City Coordination (C3) project to help them sustain the networks developed over the past three years. Funded by a federal HUD grant, the C3 project has facilitated a number of “task teams”— networks of individuals organized around topics such as Health, Youth, Employment and Housing. The grant ends in Nov. 2007 and these Task Teams will lose the C3 project’s coordinating funcction. CACRD researchers are discussing with the Task Teams ways they can sustain themselves without a central coordinator.

  • Community Partners: Over 150 individuals are associated with the C3 Project and Task Teams
  • Faculty/Staff: Allison Alden, Pam Mischen, Steve Jackson
  • Funded by: Still looking for a funding source

Network Response to Self-injury

Overview: Many adolescents engage in self-injuring behavior. Unfortunately, with extremely limited child psychiatric services in Broome County, adolescents engaging in this type of behavior often go untreated. CACRD researchers are aiding in the development of a network of mental health providers specifically trained to recognize and treat self-injury.

Binghamton City School District 9th Grade Bridges Evaluation

Overview: The 9th Grade Bridges Program provides a more intimate learning environment at the Columbus School for students who are at risk of making a successful transition from middle to high school. CACRD evaluators are using the Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) tool developed by the Search Institute and social network analysis to determine the effect of the Bridges Program on social support structures, developmental assets and their relationship to academic achievement and absenteeism.


Understanding the Prevalence and Treatment Seeking Behaviors among Individuals with Gambling Problems in Tioga County, NY (.pdf, 346k)

2007-2008 BCSD Bridges Evaluation Report (.pdf, 6.5mb)

Weed and Seed Evaluation Report (.pdf, 1.4mb)

Related Links

Binghamton Neighborhood Project

CoCo: Complexity Research Group

EvoS: Evolutionary Studies Program

Last Updated: 9/3/14