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Social Constraints, Agency, Inter-Organizational Tie Formation and Knowledge Diffusion

39 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2011 Last revised: 3 Mar 2015

Jason Greenberg

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business

David Lazer

Northeastern University - Department of Political Science; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Maria C. Binz-Scharf

City College of New York

Ines Mergel

Syracuse University - Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

Date Written: December 26, 2011

Abstract

Social capital is currently one of social structure‘s most prominent and debated manifestations. However, we have a limited understanding of how social ties as the basis of social capital form in the first place. From one perspective social capital is viewed as: "investment in social relations with expected returns in the marketplace" (Lin 2001, p. 19). A second perspective on social capital formation stresses contextual and environmental features beyond the control of individuals that may yield benefits. Both perspectives are based on premises implicating various motives and structural constraints pertaining to relationship formation including: exchange, power, and dependency; legitimacy seeking or preferential attachment based on status or prestige; homogeneity or homophily and related selection processes; propinquity; or cultural or institutional forces. These categories of mechanisms do not, however, specify a model of how social relationships as social capital are formed in the first place.

If social capital results from "investment strategies," it is important to determine what these strategies are. If social capital originates from structural factors beyond individual control it is important to clarify what mechanisms lead to tie formation within social structures.

The objective of this research is to specify mechanisms of social tie formation and reinforcement by peering inside the black-box of foci (Feld 1981) in which social ties are formed. We do so by focusing on the structural contexts within which individual (micro-level) corporate actors form social relationships for knowledge acquisition that results in macro-level knowledge sharing. A mixed-method analytical approach is employed to this end. Findings illustrate how the subtleties of social structure define the parameters within which social relationships are (strategically) formed.

Keywords: Social capital formation, interorganizational knowledge, diffusion

JEL Classification: A14

Suggested Citation

Greenberg, Jason and Lazer, David and Binz-Scharf, Maria C. and Mergel, Ines, Social Constraints, Agency, Inter-Organizational Tie Formation and Knowledge Diffusion (December 26, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1977116 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1977116

Jason Greenberg (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

40 West 4th Street, Suite 706
New York, NY NY 10012
United States
212-998-0229 (Phone)

David Lazer

Northeastern University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Boston, MA 02115
United States
617-373-2796 (Phone)
617-373-5311 (Fax)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Taubman Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-0102 (Phone)
617-496-1722 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.davidlazer.com

Maria C. Binz-Scharf

City College of New York ( email )

Convert Avenue at 138th Street
New York, NY 10031
United States

Ines Mergel

Syracuse University - Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs ( email )

215 Eggers Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244
United States

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.maxwell.syr.edu/iamergel/

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