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Cohen R. Simpson


Thanks for stopping by. My research interests and expertise sit at the nexus of social network analysis, organisational studies, economic sociology and social movement studies. The unifying objective of my work is the investigation of how network structure allows actors in organisational contexts to manage uncertainty. Specifically, I recast strategic decisions as questions of network formation in comparatively unexplored scenarios which include: (i) tie formation between two distinct types of organisational actors (e.g., producers and consumers); (ii) tie formation in systems the feature multiple distinct, but overlapping, relationships (e.g., information exchange, money exchange); and (III) tie formation in systems where there are multiple levels of actors (e.g. scientists nested within laboratories) and where relationships may form within and across levels (e.g., scientists’ laboratory memberships, inter-laboratory partnerships, information exchange between scientists). Respectively, these scenarios reflect bipartite, multiplex and multilevel networks.

Methodologically, I am deeply committed to quantitative research methods and I am particularly interested in adopting analytical strategies from diverse fields (e.g., work in biological ecology on plant-animal mutualisms) to answer sociological questions. At present, my research is typified by use of stochastic models of network formation.

Active research streams include: (i) investigation of how bipartite and multiplex network structure provides social change organisations (i.e., non-profit, advocacy, and terrorist organisations) with a means of managing uncertainty when they must make strategic decisions (e.g., choice of alliance partner; choice of protest tactics); and (ii) theorising/investigating complex problem-solving as a multilevel network constituted by team affiliation, information exchange amongst team members and teams' recycling of one another's ideas for solutions to complex social problems — the latter being a type of uncertainty reduction.

I joined the Department of Sociology in February of 2016 to work with Dr. Ella McPherson on the ESRC-funded project "Social Media, Human Rights NGOs, and the Potential for Governmental Accountability" where I am exploring flows of information between human rights NGOs and the network-based determinants of these organisations' political influence. In this work, I am especially interested in the multilevel nature of political networks. For an example of this approach, see this recent piece on inter-state fisheries agreements.

Currently I am also finishing a PhD in Social Research Methods at the London School of Economics & Political Science in the Department of Methodology Prior to joining the LSE, I completed a MSc in Social Science of the Internet at the Oxford Internet Institute as a Clarendon Scholar. I received a BA in Communication Studies from Clemson University and in the Autumn of 2013 I had the distinct pleasure of being a visiting student at the MIT Media Lab (Human Dynamics Research Group) to learn more about models of networks.


Simpson, C. R. (2016). Competition for foundation patronage and the differential effects of prestige on the grant market success of social movement organisations. Social Networks. Issue 46, p. 29-43.

Simpson, C. R. (2015). Multiplexity and strategic alliances: The relational embeddedness of coalitions in social movement organisational fields. Social Networks. Issue 42, p. 42-59.

Public Writing

Chwieroth, J. M., Walter, A., & Simpson, C. R. (2015, June 18). If Greece defaults, dominoes will not fall. The Conversation.



  • Position: Research Assistant
  • E-mail:
  • Twitter: @cohens
  • Websites: Social Media and Human Rights; Personal Webpage
  • Address: Department of Sociology, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RQ
  • Research Interests: Social Network Analysis; Embeddedness; Inter-organisational Networks; Organisational Competition; Uncertainty Reduction, Social Movement/Advocacy Organisations
  • CV