Where corporate networks are born

Welcome to the website for the research program “Where corporate networks are born”, a study of students’ social networks in top business education, funded by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) and the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) and Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius foundation, Tore Browalds foundation (Handelsbankens forskningsstiftelse) . Here you can find more information about the program, its purpose and the researchers involved.

The research program

How does one attain professional success? Good grades, hard work and a degree from a top business school are important prerequisites for career success – but they are not enough. Prior research points to one often overlooked factor: the social relationships students form during their studies. These will have a large influence on your future professional life; particularly so in corporate careers. However, researchers today do not know exactly how important relationships are compared to other factors, or exactly why social relationships are so central.

In this multi-disciplinary program we focus on these issues, investigating both quantitative and qualitive aspects of students’ relationships. We aim to follow students at Stockholm School of Economics, Hanken School of Economics, the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology throughout the course of their education and into their professional lives.

The project is independent from but supported by the participating schools and their student associations.

As a participant – what’s this about?

Who would not like to know if getting top grades is worth the effort? Or is your time may be better spent going to that party and hanging out with friends? And do different groups of students think differently about social relationships? Are certain extra-curricular activities a fast-track to better career? These are just a few of the questions our research will be able to answer.

The project addresses all first-year students, starting their studies in 2019 or later. Participation is voluntary and entails two components: to fill in an annual survey, and potentially be interviewed by one of the researchers in the team.

The project is the first of its kind in the world, comprising systematic analyses of both qualitative and quantitative aspects of social networking. Participants are thus given a unique opportunity to contribute to the creation of new academic knowledge about careers. But it is also for you as an individual to stop and reflect about your studies and your social relations. Those of you who participate every year of your education will also be given a unique chance to see how your own networks change, over the course of your studies.

Read more about data security and personal integrity here.

Possible academic contributions

Since the program will collect a versatile body of data, it bears promise to contribute to several academic debates. One is, as indicated above, what creates success* in professional life.

Top business schools, as well as elite educational institutions in general, are known to be places offering immense opportunity to its students. However, some recent studies indicate that these opportunities accrue differently to different groups of students. There is indication, for example, that women and men structure, experience and think about professional networks differently and that female students might profit from different networking strategies than male students. The corporate world is the destination for many of business school graduates, and our study could for example inform the debate on networks’ importance for gender representation in corporate management.

There is also academic disagreement about the opportunities offered by top universities for students from different backgrounds; while some studies suggest that getting into a top school is the major key to later success – regardless background – others argue that a top education tend to favor students from already privileged backgrounds.

None of these studies are conducted in a Nordic context, however, and our study could shed light on whether these hypotheses hold true even here.  Also, the effects for students with different nationalities is largely unexplored.

The fact that we do not know the answer to many of these questions is what makes the project so exciting – for us to work with, but hopefully also for students to participate in!

*Success, however, is a term to be handled with care. Typically, professional success has been measured in two ways: job rank and salary. Lately, however, research has suggested that professional success be measured also in terms of job life satisfaction, work life balance and goal fulfillment. We aim to account for both types of measurements when we say “success”.

Project timeline


Interviews and surveys with ’19 classes of the participating schools.


Interviews and surveys with ’19 and ‘20 classes at the participating schools.


Interviews and surveys with ‘19, ’20 and ’21  classes at the participating schools.

Comparative Analyses.


Interviews and surveys with ’19 – ’22  classes and the ’19 graduates at the participating schools.

Covid analyses.


Interviews and surveys with ’19 – ’22  classes and the ’19 and ‘20 graduates at the participating schools.

Comparative analyses.


Interviews and surveys with ’19 – ’22  classes and the ’19 , ‘20 and ’21 graduates at the participating schools.

Comparative analyses.


If you choose to participate in the study, your answers will be treated with utmost caution. All collected data will be anonymized prior to analysis and stored on encrypted hard disks according to the policies of the Institute for Futures Studies. Your data will be used exclusively for research purposes and will not be shared with a third party. Only results published in scientific outlets will be communicated externally.

The research team

Dr. Sofiya Voytiv
Postdoctoral scholar in Sociology, Lund university. Researcher at the Institute for Future studies
Dr. Anna Tyllström
Associate Professor in Business Studies, Uppsala university. Researcher at the Insitute for Future studies
Dr. Gergei Farkas
Senior lecturer in sociology, Linnaeus university
Dr. Nils Gustafsson
Senior lecturer in strategic communication, Lund university


If you have any questions concerning this research project please contact the research team at: thenetworkproject@iffs.se