Inside the Black Box of the Corporate Staff: Social Networks and the Implementation of Corporate Strategy

Forthcoming, The Strategic Management Journal

42 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2011 Last revised: 5 Jan 2013

See all articles by Adam M. Kleinbaum

Adam M. Kleinbaum

Tuck School of Business; Dartmouth College

Toby Stuart

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit

Date Written: December 16, 2012

Abstract

In multidivisional firms, the corporate staff is central to the implementation of corporate-level strategy, but empirical evidence on its function is limited. We examine one corporate staff through e-mail analysis. We find sharp cross-sectional differences in communication patterns: staff members have networks that are larger, more integrative, and richer in structural holes. However, much of this difference is attributed to sorting processes, rather than being caused by employment in the corporate staff per se. Further, once people receive the ‘corporate imprimatur,’ they retain aspects of it even when they move back to the line organization. These results imply that the literature’s emphasis on structure as a means to achieve coordination undervalues a selection process in which individuals with broad networks match to coordination-focused jobs in the corporate staff.

Keywords: social networks, corporate headquarters, corporate strategy, organizational structure, causal analysis

Suggested Citation

Kleinbaum, Adam M. and Stuart, Toby E., Inside the Black Box of the Corporate Staff: Social Networks and the Implementation of Corporate Strategy (December 16, 2012). Forthcoming, The Strategic Management Journal. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1804220 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1804220

Adam M. Kleinbaum (Contact Author)

Tuck School of Business ( email )

Hanover, NH
United States

HOME PAGE: http://bit.ly/kleinbaum

Dartmouth College ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States

Toby E. Stuart

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02163
United States

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