September 19, 2023, 11:30–12:30
Room Auditorium 4
A certain part of economic activity is based on the activation of chains of interpersonal relationships. This has long been documented for the job market, but also, among other things, for innovation or artistic creation activities, or the relationships between principals and subcontractors in various sectors (construction, for example). In this paper, I will first introduce the notion of relational chain. This is an approach to social networks, the first major landmark of which was Stanley Milgram's research on connectivity in networks of persons (1967). Another landmark was Mark Granovetter's study of the job market (1974). Since then, this type of approach has developed, complementing the more traditional analyses of complete networks and personal networks. In the study of economic activity, the study of relational chains is associated with the evaluation of embeddedness effects, i.e. the dependence of transactions and economic relationships on networks of relationships between persons. I will then present two empirical research projects I carried out with various colleagues to study relational chains, one on relations between public research laboratories and industry, the other on the creation of startups. To carry out this type of study, we developed a method inspired by the work on networks of Mark Granovetter and Nancy Howell Lee, but also by the sociology of life courses and oral history. This method, known as "quantified stories", is based on the reconstitution of cases using qualitative methods (mainly documentary analysis and interviews), and the coding of various pieces of information in the reconstituted stories.