Cohen R. Simpson

I am a network analyst and analytical sociologist interested in the understanding derived from an explicitly network perspective on populations of organisations. Themes of my current research include the multi-layered nature of socio-economic systems (i.e., multiplexity), mutualistic models of inter-organisational interaction, populations of social movement organisations as networks and computational approaches to social inquiry. Methodologically, my interests lie with stochastic models of networks and their utility in untangling puzzles around the emergence of systems.

Prior to coming to the LSE I completed my MSc in Social Science of the Internet at the Oxford Internet Institute| (St. Cross College, University of Oxford) as a Clarendon Scholar|. I received my BA in Communication Studies from Clemson University|. For the month of September 2013 I had the distinct pleasure of being a visiting student at the MIT Media Lab|  (Human Dynamics) to learn more about models of networks and the advances in mining digital traces, online and off.

Research Interests
Cooperation and competition in organisational populations
Multiplexity and network Closure (particular the variety driven by localised structural equivalence)
Ecological approaches in the sociology of organisations

Social movement organisations as strategic actors
Alliances/coalition Building
Competition amongst social movement organisations for scarce resources
The quantitative/computational detailing of social movement dynamics

The Mining of Digital Traces; Reality Mining
Hyperlink Networks

Doctoral Research
Thesis Title: "Intra-Movement Processes: Stochastic Studies On The Network Dynamics of Social Movement Organisational Fields"
Supervisor: Dr Benjamin Lauderdale| 

My doctoral research takes the form of a three studies on the largely unexplored network dynamics of populations of social movement organisations (SMOs) — those groups with goals aimed at changing society. This research if funded with the support of an LSE PhD Scholarship.

Multiplexity and Strategic Alliances: The Relational Embeddedness of Coalitions in Social Movement Organisational Fields (Paper I): While scholarship on social movements has embraced the notion of movements as networks, there has been little empirical exploration of the dynamics of alliance formation within these multilayered systems. Here I explore the role of overlapping relations in alliance formation among a group of 55 health-related social movement organisations (SMOs) mobilised against austerity. Using cross-sectional bivariate exponential random graph models, I find dependencies between digital proxies for alliance, shared allies, information exchange, positive nomination and offline co-lobbying activity at the dyadic, degree and triadic levels. Cross-network associations indicate that multiplexity plays a non-trivial role in the formation of alliances and, more generally, social movement organisational fields, and requires increased attention from movement scholars.

Bipartite Networks, Status And Competition For Financial Patronage: A Mutualistic Model Of External Resource Derivation Amongst Social Movement Organisations (Paper II; Job Market Paper): Extant models of financial patronage — the allocation of grants to Social Movement Organisations by private foundations — exclusively use population density to account for levels of competition. However, these analyses fail to capture the precise manner in which SMOs win external financial support in addition to neglecting strategic decision making on the part of foundation-investors. Drawing on mutualistic models of interspecies interaction, here I recast contests for financial patrons as one half of a dynamic bipartite network representative of the patronage system wherein a population of SMOs and a population of foundations cooperate across classes to mutual advantage and SMOs compete within class for finite financial resources. Using Stochastic Actor-Oriented Models, agent-based models for the statistical inference of longitudinal network dynamics, I explore how the structure of patronage networks shape foundations’ propensity to invest. Data consists of 3,261 grants given by 136 foundations to 66 professional SMOs with nonprofit status loosely mobilised around anthropogenic climate change between 2003-2007. Results indicate the interplay of the structural positions of both foundations and SMOs to produce network dynamics that powerfully shape foundations’ propensity to invest in the face of uncertainty about the quality of SMOs. These dynamics are centred around SMOs’ competitiveness due to their places in a network-based status hierarchy and occur over and above the effects of organisational traits such as administrative cost ratios and fundraising expenses.

Paper III: TBD. Most likely something related to foundations roles in constructing social movement organisational fields.

Other Projects
Networked Default: Public Debt, Trade Embeddedness, and Partisan Survival in Democracies Since 1870|” with Dr. Jeffrey Chwieroth| (LSE) and Professor Andrew Walter|  (University of Melbourne): Sovereign default is often associated with the downfall of incumbent governments in democratic polities. Existing scholarship directs attention to the relationship between default and domestic politics and institutions rather than the broader international environment wherein repayment and default take place. We explore the possibility that the impact of a country’s decision to default on partisan survival will also be shaped by the prevalence of default amongst its peers in its local network. Illustrating this line of reasoning with international trade, our results support the argument that given networked default, voters see national default as a lost strategic opportunity to elevate a country’s reputation and are more inclined to punish incumbent regimes who fail to repay. These results are inconsistent with an alternative possibility - that networked default might contribute to the decay of a repayment norm and thus provide a justifiable “excuse” for default at home. Furthermore, our results are robust to alternative measures of regime governance and entropy balancing in light of systematic differences between defaulting and non-defaulting regimes. Overall, our findings point to the political interdependence of default and repayment and the need for political scientists to take greater account of network effects in analysing the consequences of economic misbehaviour.

Policy Work
Dutton, William H., Jirotka, Marina, Meyer, Eric T., Schroeder, Ralph & Simpson, Cohen R. (May 31, 2012). Key Issues for Digital Research: A Social Science Perspective on Policy and Practice. A Forum Discussion Paper for the Oxford e-Social Science Project of the Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford e-Research Centre, and the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

Preferred Methods and Models
Exponential Random Graph Models
Stochastic Actor-Oriented Models
Survival Anlysis
Generalised Additive Models
Quantitative Content Analysis

Programming Languages
Python; R





Twitter: @cohens|

Skype: cohansolo