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Exploratory Social Network Analysis of Stakeholder Organizations Along the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor

Patrick Holladay, Jeffrey C. Skibins, Florian J. Zach, Marcelo Arze


In 1984, the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor was established as the first heritage area in the United States. In 2006, the United States Congress designated the Canal Corridor Association as the coordinating entity for the corridor. In 2011, the Canal Corridor Association finalized a master plan detailing six areas of concern: boundaries, conservation, education, heritage, recreation, and tourism. To facilitate stakeholder coordination and plan implementation, an exploratory social network analysis of stakeholder organizations within the corridor was employed. Social network analysis is used to detect and interpret patterns of social ties among actors in complex systems. Using Gephi for visualization, and network metrics and modeling, we identified the relationships among actors. The Canal Corridor Association was the most highly connected organization and several other stakeholder organizations emerged as important in the network. These data are an important step for understanding information diffusion, cooperation, coordination efforts and social-ecological resilience for the Canal Corridor Association. Further research is needed to explore this network and its social dimensions.

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Social network analysis; national heritage corridor; information; cooperation; resilience; information

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