Unfolding similarity in interphysician networks: the impact of institutional and professional homophily

Daniele Mascia, Fausto Di Vincenzo, Valentina Iacopino, Maria Pia Fantini, Americo Cicchetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background Modern healthcare is characterized by high complexity due to the proliferation of specialties, professional roles, and priorities within organizations. To perform clinical interventions, knowledge distributed across units, directorates and individuals needs to be integrated. Formal and/or informal mechanisms may be used to coordinate knowledge and tasks within organizations. Although the literature has recently considered the role of physicians’ professional networks in the diffusion of knowledge, several concerns remain about the mechanisms through which these networks emerge within healthcare organizations. The aim of the present paper is to explore the impact of institutional and professional homophilies on the formation of interphysician professional networks. Methods We collected data on a community of around 300 physicians working at a local health authority within the Italian National Health Service. We employed multiple regression quadratic assignment procedures to explore the extent to which institutional and professional homophilies influence the formation of interphysician networks. Results We found that both institutional and professional homophilies matter in explaining interphysician networks. Physicians who had similar fields of interest or belonged to the same organizational structure were more likely to establish professional relationships. In addition, professional homophily was more relevant than institutional affiliation in explaining collaborative ties. Conclusions Our findings have organizational implications and provide useful information for managers who are responsible for undertaking organizational restructuring. Healthcare executives and administrators may want to consider the structure of advice networks while adopting new organizational structures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-100
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Homophily
  • Organizational theory
  • Physicians’ networks
  • Social network analysis


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