The Importance of External Contacts in Job Performance: A Study in Healthcare Organizations Using Social Network Analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • External authors:
  • Pilar Marqués-Sánchez
  • María Muñoz-Doyague
  • Nestor Serrano-Fuentes
  • Peter Van Bogaert
  • Ivaylo Vassilev
  • David Reeves


here is evidence that relations between physicians and nurses within healthcare institutions might be shaped by informal aspects of such relations and by links to people external to the organization, with an impact on work performance. Social network analysis is underutilized in exploring such associations. The paper aims to describe physicians’ and nurses’ relationships outside their clinical units and to explore what kind of ties are related to job performance. A network analysis was performed on cross-sectional data. The study population consisted of 196 healthcare employees working in a public hospital and a primary healthcare centre in Spain. Relational data were analysed using the UCINET software package. Measures included: (i) sample characteristics; (ii) social network variables; and (iii) team performance ratings. Descriptive statistics (means, medians, percentages) were used to characterize staff and performance ratings. A correlational analysis was conducted to examine the strength of relationships between four different types of ties. Our findings suggest that external ties only contribute to improving the performance of physicians at both the individual and team level. They are focused on the decision-making process about the therapeutic plan and, therefore, might need to seek advice outside the workplace. In contrast, external ties are not relevant for the work performance of nurses, as they need to find solutions to immediate problems in a short period of time, having strong ties in the workplace. Social network analysis can illuminate relations within healthcare organizations and inform the development of innovative interventions.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number7
Early online date27 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018