PDF:  Research statement

Published research

Cunningham, P, Drumwright, ME & Foster, KW. 2021. Networks of complicity: Social networks and sex harassment. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, 40(4): 392-409.

Foster, KW. 2015. A network-learning model of strategic change. Academy of Management Proceedings, 1: 1-40.

Working papers

Twists and turns, starts and stops: Understanding the transgenerational paths of family firms
empirical paper with Albert James and Binod Sundararajan (under revision for submission)

Shades of organization past: The influence of organizational membership on new network formation
empirical network paper with Bill McEvily from dissertation chapter 4 (under revision for submission)

The story of embeddedness and reciprocity
theory, literature review, future directions (under revision for submission)

Work in progress

Organizational social networks and interdependence
theory paper from dissertation chapter 2 (under revision for submission)

An NK-landscape model of network search
theory paper from dissertation chapter 3 (under revision for submission)

Network search and optimization of leaders and followers
theory paper with Bill McEvily and Mike Ryall (revising theory)

The role of identity in leadership emergence in innovative collectives
empirical network paper with Kristin Cullen(analyzing data)


Essays on organizational strategy and social networks

PDF: PhD dissertation (published by Proquest)

To develop new organization theory, and to investigate the research question of interest, three distinct chapters follow. Each chapter approaches the central proposition from a different theoretical perspective, and each employs a different research paradigm: an agent-based learning simulation to generate theoretical claims for network evolution; the definition of organizational identity and a complexity simulation to generate further theoretical claims for network evolution; and the empirical measurement of organizational identity and instrumental variables regression to test its effect on interpersonal networks. The three chapters are outlined below.

Organizational strategic change and self-organizing networks
(dissertation chapter 2)

The second chapter asks to what extent does the relationship between the formal authority of the organization to designate interpersonal interactions, and the discretion of individuals to select interaction partners contribute to the successful adaptation of an organization to strategic change?  A dynamic, agent-based search and network evolution model is developed to investigate the relationship between formal authority and individual discretion.  The model makes use of the genetic algorithm to simulate the organization-level search of leaders and local-level search of individuals for ideal configurations of interpersonal interactions in support of a strategic change.  The outcome of the simulation is the theoretical claim that the more that interpersonal interactions are designated by formal authority versus chosen at individual discretion, the more adverse the effect on the success of strategic change.

An NK model of network search
(dissertation chapter 3)

The third chapter asks to what extent does variation in individual preferences for an organizational identity influence the selection of interaction partners, and subsequently the successful adaptation of an organization to strategic change? The dynamic, agent-based search and network evolution model from Chapter 2 is further developed to investigate the relationship between organizational identity, individual identity preferences, and the evolution of the interpersonal network. The model makes use of both the genetic algorithm to simulate individual-level search, and the NK model to randomly generate a fitness landscape in which the payoff contribution of a given interpersonal interaction is interdependent with the state of other interactions. The main argument of the chapter asserts that individual preferences for organizational identity, as part of the implementation of an organizational strategic change, create variation in the performance contributions of the interactions among the individuals.

Organizational networks and identity
(dissertation chapter 4)

The fourth chapter asks to what extent does an organization’s identity influence the strength of ties between individuals? This chapter proposes a multidimensional theory of organizational identity and investigates its influence on interpersonal tie strength. A model of organizational identity is put forward that suggests three identity dimensions that correspond to the common management practices used to organize and motivate individuals. The model underpins the hypothesis that variation in individual preferences for an organization’s identity affects interpersonal ties. In a study of a unique military-educational unit (representative of a knowledge-intensive organization), variation in the preferences for organizational identity across pairs of individuals was found to influence the strength of their interpersonal ties.


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