Using recurrence analysis to examine group dynamics

Knight, A. P., Kennedy, D. M., McComb, S. A. (2016). Using recurrence analysis to examine group dynamics. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 20, 223-241.

Abstract. This article provides an accessible introduction to recurrence analysis—an analytical approach that has great promise for helping researchers understand group dynamics. Recurrence analysis is a technique with roots in the systems dynamics literature that was developed to reveal the properties of complex, nonlinear systems. By tracking when a system visits similar states at multiple points in its life—and the form or pattern of these recurrences over time—recurrence analysis equips researchers with a set of new metrics for assessing the properties of group dynamics, such as recurrence rate (i.e., stability), determinism (i.e., predictability), and entropy (i.e., complexity). Recent work has shown the potential value of recurrence analysis across a number of different disciplines. To extend its use within the domain of group dynamics, the authors present a conceptual overview of the technique and give a step-by-step tutorial on how to use recurrence analysis to study groups. An exemplar application of recurrence analysis using dialogue-based data from 63 three-person student groups illustrates the use of recurrence analysis in examining how groups change their focus on different processes over time. This is followed by a discussion of variations of recurrence analysis and implications for research questions within the literature on groups. When group researchers track group processes or emergent states over time, and thus compile a time series dataset, recurrence analysis can be a useful technique for measuring the properties of groups as dynamic systems.

Spring 2017 Courses

Organizational Research Methods (PhD), January to May, 2017

This is an introductory PhD seminar on organizational research methods. In this course we will together critically examine the building blocks of rigorous research and publishing in the organizational sciences, across a range of research questions and specific research methods. We will do this through readings, class discussions, and exercises, as well as through writing and reviewing one another’s work.

Key Learning Objectives

  • Expose you to a range of methods commonly-used by organizational scholars, helping you to learn the language and foundations of dominant methodological approaches.
  • Improve your ability to critically consume organizational research from a variety of methodological approaches.
  • Provide you with different methodological tools that may be useful for your own research interests and questions.
  • Develop your ability to identify the strengths and weaknesses of research, as well as the tradeoffs that scholars make in the research and publication process.
  • Strengthen your ability to communicate your ideas, interests, and contributions through your writing.