The Center supports social science research by using computational techniques to analyze big data. Today huge amounts of data are available to use for research on human behavior: website clicks, medical records, social media data. This data can be used to address larger societal issues of inequality, healthcare, education, democracy, and more.
What do protests and companies have in common? Sarah Soule, Graduate School of Business professor of organizational behavior, and Dan Wang of the Columbia Business School, analyzed a database of 23,000 reports of protests in the New York Times between 1960 and 1995. They found that in protests in which several diverse issues are expressed, the actors staging the protest combine protest tactics in new and innovative ways. They also found that in protest events in which less widely appealing issues are expressed, the actors develop new and innovative tactics. The research suggests that similar methods may also be effective in companies; groups generate more creative combinations of solutions when workers come from a wide range of backgrounds, and great ideas often come from the “lone genius” working on the periphery of the company. Read more about Soule's forthcoming publication