Faculty Directory
Noshir Contractor

Jane & William White Professor of Behavioral Sciences


2145 Sheridan Road
Tech D241
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

Email Noshir Contractor


Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences


Master of Engineering Management Program

Master of Science in Analytics Program

MMM Program

Download CV

Research Interests

Noshir Contractor is the Jane S. & William J. White Professor of Behavioral Sciences in the School of Engineering, School of Communication and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, USA. He is the Director of the Science of Networks in Communities (SONIC) Research Group at Northwestern University.

He is investigating factors that lead to the formation, maintenance, and dissolution of dynamically linked social and knowledge networks in communities. Specifically, his research team is developing and testing theories and methods of network science to map, understand and enable more effective networks in a wide variety of contexts including communities of practice in business, science and engineering communities, disaster response teams, public health networks, digital media and learning networks, and in virtual worlds. His research program has been funded continuously for the past 18 years by major grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation with additional funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA),  Air Force Research Lab, Army Research Institute, Army Research Laboratory, Army Research Office, the Rockefeller Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Professor Contractor has published or presented over 250 research papers dealing with communicating and organizing. His book titled Theories of Communication Networks (co-authored with Professor Peter Monge and published by Oxford University Press in English and published by Renmin University Press in simplified Chinese in 2010) received the 2003 Book of the Year award from the Organizational Communication Division of the National Communication Association. He is the lead developer of C-IKNOW (Cyberinfrastructure for Inquiring Knowledge Network On the Web) a network recommender system to enable communities using cyberinfrastructure, as well as Blanche, a software environment to simulate the dynamics of social networks.

Professor Contractor has been elected by a group of his peers to receive the National Communication Association 2014 Distinguished Scholar Award.  This award recognizes a lifetime of scholarly achievement in the study of human communication. In 2015 he was elected as a Fellow of the International Communication Association.  His papers have received Top Paper awards from the International Communication Association and the National Communication Association. In 2000 he was awarded the Outstanding Member Award by the Organizational Communication Division of the International Communication Association. He is the editor for the journal Network Science in the areas of communication, engineering and management. He is also the associate editor for the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication and on the advisory board for the Journal of Web Science  He has served on the editorial boards of Human Communication Research, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Journal of Communication, Management Communication Quarterly, and Organization Science.

He has consulted with Procter & Gamble, Livestrong Foundation, Boeing, Charles Schwab, Fiat, Illinois Power, Merrill Lynch, Paramount Pictures, and Vodafone. He developed one of the first graduate and undergraduate “virtual” courses on "Emerging Technologies in the Workplace" that were webcast and cablecast by Jones International University. Internationally, Professor Contractor has also conducted workshops on social network analysis and the management of knowledge networks in China, Finland, India, Israel, Italy, Japan,  Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.

Professor Contractor is the co-founder and Chairman of Syndio (synd.io) which offers organizations products and services based on network analytics. His other appointments include Trustee of  the Web Science Trust based in the UK, and an honorary professor at the School of Management at Fudan University in Shanghai.  Professor Contractor holds a Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California and a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras (Chennai). He was on the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for twenty years prior to joining Northwestern in 2007.

Selected Publications

  • Contractor, Noshir S.; Lungeanu, Alina, “The Effects of Diversity and Network Ties on Innovations: The Emergence of a New Scientific Field”, American Behavioral Scientist, (2015)
  • Contractor, Noshir; Welles, Brooke Foucault, “Individual Motivations and Network Effects: A Multilevel Analysis of the Structure of Online Social Relationships”, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, (2015)
  • Contractor, Noshir; Tiropanis, Thanassis; Hall, Wendy; Crowcroft, Jon; Tassiulas, Leandros, “Network science, web science, and internet science”, Communications of the ACM, (2015)
  • Contractor, Noshir S.; DeChurch, Leslie A.; Carter, Dorothy R.; Braun, Michael T., “Social network approaches to leadership: An integrative conceptual review”, Journal of Applied Psychology, (2015)
  • Contractor, Noshir; Foucault Welles, Brooke; Vashevko, Anthony; Bennett, Nick, “Dynamic Models of Communication in an Online Friendship Network”, Communication Methods and Measures, (2014)
  • Contractor, Noshir S.; DeChurch, Leslie A., “Integrating social networks and human social motives to achieve social influence at scale”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, (2014)
  • Lungeanu, Alina; Huang, Yun; Contractor, Noshir S., “Understanding the assembly of interdisciplinary teams and its impact on performance”, Journal of Informetrics, (2014)
  • Van De Wijngaert, Lidwien; Bouwman, Harry; Contractor, Noshir, “A network approach toward literature review”, Quality and Quantity, (2014)