Jim Westaby | Social-Organizational Psychology | Organization and Leadership

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Social-Organizational Psychology

In Organization and Leadership

Jim Westaby

Topics of Interest:

Dynamic Network Theory
Our research has focused on how social networks influence goal pursuit, performance, and emotional contagion in social and organizational settings.  Social networks permeate our lives, both in-person and online, such as through social networking and social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn).  After years in development, our work has culminated in the development of dynamic network theory (DNT) to predict and understand the way social networks impact goal pursuits in various domains (Westaby, 2012).  For example, individuals have used the theory to model the in-person networks involved in their pursuits to get jobs, start businesses, lose weight, run marathons, quit tobacco, and improve social and organizational systems, among many others.  In contrast to the classic study of social network structure alone, DNT examines how a taxonomy of only 8 social network roles can explain the complex ways in which networks wield their influence on our goals, dreams, and aspirations.  Dynamic network charting, another new contribution, is also used in the theory to model how these roles are involved in specific goal pursuit cases. 

Workgroup Members:

  • Jim Westaby
  • Aimee Lace, doctoral student
  • Adam Parr, doctoral student
  • Nick Rosemarino, doctoral student
  • Eccho Yu, doctoral student
  • Kopal Manglik, masters student

Current Research Projects:

  • Network goal analysis and behavioral change: Applying dynamic network theory
  • The complex modeling of social networks involved in human goal striving
  • Personality and the dynamic networks involved in organizational performance
  • Demographic diversity on attitudes and motivations in dynamic network systems
  • Network goal analysis of teams: An application of dynamic network theory
  • Dynamic network intelligence among individuals and groups
  • Is being central in social networks a good thing? It depends on the role in dynamic network theory
  • The network dynamics of unethical behavior: A case analysis
  • Case study analysis of international conflict: Using network goal analysis to examine international conflict


Please see our Dynamic Network Lab’s website for much more information: tc.columbia.edu/dnl

Representative Publications:

Westaby, J. D., Pfaff, D. L., & Redding, N. (2014). Psychology and social networks: A dynamic network theory perspective. American Psychologist, 69, 269-284.

Westaby, J. D. (2012).  Dynamic network theory: How social networks influence goal pursuit. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 

Westaby, J.D., & Redding, N. (2014/in press). Social networks, social media, and conflict resolution. In P.T. Coleman, M. Deutsch, & E.C. Marcus (Eds.), The handbook of conflict resolution: Theory and practice (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Westaby, J. D. (2012). Social networks, social support, and goal pursuit: Testing dynamic network theory. Paper presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

Westaby, J. D. (2005). Behavioral reasoning theory: Identifying new linkages underlying intentions and behavior.  Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 98, 97-120. 

Westaby, J. D., Probst, T. M., & Lee, B. C. (2010).  Leadership decision-making: A behavioral reasoning theory analysis. Leadership Quarterly, 21, 481-495. 

Westaby, J. D., Versenyi, A., & Hausmann, R. C. (2005).  Intentions to work during terminal illness: An exploratory study of antecedent conditions.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 1027-1035. 

Westaby, J. D., & Lowe, J. K. (2005).  Risk taking orientation and injury among youth workers: Examining the social influence of supervisors, coworkers, and parents.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 1297-1305. 

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