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Article

Actor non-response in valued social networks: The impact of different non-response treatments on the stability of blockmodels

Social networks. 2017. Vol. 48. P. 46-56.
Ferligoj A., Žnidaršič A., Doreian P.

Social network data usually contain different types of errors. One of them is missing data due to actor non-response. This can seriously jeopardize the results of analyses if not appropriately treated. The impact of missing data may be more severe in valued networks where not only the presence of a tie is recorded, but also its magnitude or strength. Blockmodeling is a technique for delineating network structure. We focus on an indirect approach suitable for valued networks. Little is known about the sensitivity of valued networks to different types of measurement errors. As it is reasonable to expect that blockmodeling, with its positional outcomes, could be vulnerable to the presence of non-respondents, such errors require treatment. We examine the impacts of seven actor non-response treatments on the positions obtained when indirect blockmodeling is used. The start point for our simulation are networks whose structure is known. Three structures were considered: cohesive subgroups, core-periphery, and hierarchy. The results show that the number of non-respondents, the type of underlying blockmodel structure, and the employed treatment all have an impact on the determined partitions of actors in complex ways. Recommendations for best practices are provided. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.