Dissertation Abstract: Bryce Hannibal on Jazz Collaboration Networks

Bryce Hannibal defended his dissertation at Texas A&M University earlier this year and will be on the market this fall.


In this project I explore how career success, historical importance, and innovation are outcomes of social network characteristics.  Specifically, I look at jazz collaboration networks at the height of small-group jazz popularity (1945-1958) to determine if one’s structural location within the larger network influences career success.  Using a network dataset collected from the Tom Lord Discography, I use social network analysis techniques and longitudinal logistic regression to examine a statistical relationship between network characteristics and success.  I test several existing hypotheses in network literature, e.g., centrality, brokerage, and closure, as well as newer assertions that are gaining widespread use.

Because jazz is based on improvisation there are incentives to creating a well-functioning closed group that remains cohesive so that musicians become familiar with and attuned to one another’s musical styles.  However, while this logic is sound the results of this project do not follow the closure tradition and are instead consistent with the sparse networks or brokerage hypotheses.  Empirically, individuals within jazz networks who form a closed group are less likely to have a successful career.  More broadly, conclusions from this project suggest that individual innovators who work in a group setting should maintain open networks with connections to diverse areas of the global network.

One thought on “Dissertation Abstract: Bryce Hannibal on Jazz Collaboration Networks

  1. Howard Aldrich

    I”d love to see the full results of this paper. Lots of questions occur to me: was there an east vs. west coast split, did players who did a lot of session work do better (lots of chances to make new connections), were there period effects (touring big bands were losing out by the late 1950s), what was the role of central record producers (and agents), etc. I hope you start writing this up for publication!

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