In December, Sebastian Botzem presented preliminary findings of the Global Financial Elites project at the “Networks in Finance” Workshop at the University of Manchester, organized by Adam Leaver and Daniel Tischer. The paper, co-authored by Natalia Besedovsky, investigates the dynamic development of the global financial elite network drawing on the GloFIELD database which includes the big players of finance and their connections to other organisations via personal links.Comparing the network structure over 25 years, Sebastian and Natalia find that organizational relations become more dense over time and that the global network changes notably after the financial crisis. In particular, regulators, international organisations, and the industry itself lose connectivity while private non-profit organisations like think tanks and professional associations move towards the core. In the 2013 network, for instance, the World Economic Forum (WEF) is the most centrally located organization . Interpreting networks as infrastructure of soft power relations and knowledge flows, these changes might indicate an increasing demand of sense-making, persuasion, and a need for reassurance after the crisis. Network structures also signal a renewal of the dominant self-regulatory pattern in financial governance. The rise of new actors in the financial elite network certainly merits further research.
The workshop brought together both renowned and emerging scholars from different disciplines interested in network structures and dynamics within global finance. Participants discussed the usefulness of network analysis in understanding financialization and structural changes in different financial sectors. A consensus emerged that social network analysis helps us a great deal in this respect since it enables the mapping of actor constellations over time and the connectedness of finance across sectors and borders. The workshop, however, also showed that network analysis does not replace the theorization of social relations and dynamic change in finance and ideally needs to triangulated with other methods.