The prevalence and productivity effects of close friendship in academic science
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This dissertation examines the prevalence of friendship and its effects on productivity in academic science from the perspective of networked social capital. It seeks to understand what friendship is in the context of the professional environment, what distinguishes it from other professional relationships, and how it affects the function and the outcomes of science. The study was motivated by the increased emphasis of collaboration as a means of fostering research competitiveness. The research reported here was performed as part of the National Science Foundation project "NETWISE I: Women in Science and Engineering: Network Access, Participation, and Career Outcomes" (Grant # REC-0529642). The importance of friendship in the context of academic science has often been implied and anecdotal, but it has not been elucidated or empirically tested. This dissertation seeks to address this gap. The unit of analysis in the model is the individual. The dissertation conceptualizes friendship as one aspect of a collaborative relationship and thus an important determinant of a scientist's social capability of pool relevant resources for the purposes of productivity. It hypothesizes that professional and personal roles form an integrative relationship within collaborative ties and that such complementarity benefits individual goal attainment, specifically with regard to publication productivity. The results of the study show that friendship has a strong positive effect on an individual's publication productivity, which is comparable to the effect of collaboration across organizational boundaries. The results also show that while friendship is fairly prevalent in collaborative relationships, some groups of scientists are more likely to have friends among their closest collaborators than other groups; that friendships differ from other collaborative relationships in that they more often form between individuals of the same status, provide a greater variety of productivity-relevant resources such as knowledge, advice, endorsements of one's reputation, and introductions to potential collaborators; and that friendship facilitates the mobilization of these resources from personal collaborative networks for productivity purposes.