This study investigates the origins of variation in the structures of global interorganizational networks across industries. We combine empirical analyses of existing interorganizational networks with an agent-based simulation model of network emergence. Our insights are twofold. First, we find that differences in technological dynamism across industries and the concomitant demands for value creation engender variation in firms’ collaborative behaviors. Specifically, firms in technologically dynamic industries on average pursue more open networks, which foster access to new and diverse resources that help sustain continuous innovation. By contrast, firms in technologically stable industries on average pursue more closed networks, which foster reliable collaboration and help preserve existing resources. Second, we show that because of the observed cross-industry differences in firms’ collaborative behaviors, the emergent industry-wide networks take on distinct global forms. Technologically stable industries feature clan networks, characterized by low global connectedness and medium-to-strong community structure. Technologically dynamic industries, by contrast, feature community networks, characterized by high connectedness and medium community structure. Convention networks, which feature high global connectedness and weak community structure, were not evident among the empirical networks we examined. The findings of this study advance an environmental-contingency theory of network formation.
Environmental Demands and the Emergence of Social Structure: Technological Dynamism and Interorganizational Network Forms
Tatarynowicz, A., Sytch, M., Gulati, R. 2016. Environmental Demands and the Emergence of Social Structure: Technological Dynamism and Interorganizational Network Forms. Administrative Science Quarterly, 61(1): 52–86.
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