Leadership in neurology: a social network analysis

Ann Neurol. 2014 Mar;75(3):342-50. doi: 10.1002/ana.24089.


Objective: Two important leadership posts in American neurology are the presidents of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and the American Neurological Association (ANA). In this article, we use social network analysis, based on graph theory, to map the professional ties of presidents of the AAN and ANA since 1948. We examined whether institution ranking was related to being president of either organization, and whether there were core groups of presidents, institutions of employment during presidency, or training programs (residency and fellowship) in the combined and separate AAN and ANA networks.

Methods: Using archival data, we constructed a series of relational tables of the presidents and their affiliations. We used a chi-square analysis to test the relation between institution ranking and organization affiliation. For network data, we used a 2-mode analysis with measures of node, dyad, and network characteristics.

Results: ANA presidents were more likely to be employed at ranked institutions compared to AAN presidents. Ten presidents bridged both organizations, and therefore had the highest centrality in the combined network. Presidents trained in a core group of similar residency and fellowship programs that included Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, and Mayo Clinic for AAN presidents, and Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and University College London for ANA presidents. In contrast, during their presidency, AAN and ANA presidents worked at a diffuse set of institutions without a core group.

Interpretation: Training programs are leadership hubs, and should be targeted to develop future presidents and influence trends in the neurology leadership network.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Neurology* / education
  • Social Support*
  • Societies, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Workforce