Toward ethical guidelines for network research in organizations

Stephen P. Borgatti, José Luis Molina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


All sociological/anthropological research (network or otherwise) in organizations (particularly corporations) is complicated by the need to obtain consent not only from the potential respondent but from the organization itself. Whereas in ordinary research there are essentially two parties that must come to agreement - the researcher and the respondent - in the organizational research there are three. In addition, the fact of organizational hierarchy means that the employee's participation in the research entails considerably more risk than in other situations. At the same time, social network research involves special challenges due to the lack of anonymity at the questionnaire level and the sensitivity of some of the questions. This paper seeks to lay out some of the issues and to propose a set of standard guidelines for ethical research on networks in organizations. It is hoped that developing a set of standard guidelines and forms will help Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) to allow network research. Examples of proposed forms are included as appendices. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-117
JournalSocial Networks
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2005


  • Ethics
  • IRB
  • Organization
  • Social networks


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