Bringing Agency Back into Network Research: Constrained Agency and Network Action

Pp. 73-93 in Research in the Sociology of Organizations, vol. 40, edited by D. J. Brass, G. Labianca, A. Mehra, D. S. Halgin, and S. P. Borgatti: Emerald Group Publishing, 2014

Posted: 17 Jul 2013 Last revised: 26 Jul 2015

See all articles by Ranjay Gulati

Ranjay Gulati

Harvard Business School - Organizational Behavior

Sameer B. Srivastava

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Date Written: December 1, 2014

Abstract

We propose a framework of constrained agency grounded in the actors’ resources and motivations within their structurally constrained context. Structural positions influence the resources available to actors and color the motivations that shape their actions. Resources equip actors to exert agency, while motivations propel them to do so. We derive a typology of network actions and illustrate how the form of constrained agency through which a particular network action is taken can affect actors’ ensuing structural positions and the nature of the constraints they subsequently face. Our conceptualization of constrained agency identifies new sources of endogenous change in network structure.

Keywords: structure, agency, social networks

Suggested Citation

Gulati, Ranjay and Srivastava, Sameer B., Bringing Agency Back into Network Research: Constrained Agency and Network Action (December 1, 2014). Pp. 73-93 in Research in the Sociology of Organizations, vol. 40, edited by D. J. Brass, G. Labianca, A. Mehra, D. S. Halgin, and S. P. Borgatti: Emerald Group Publishing, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2294729

Ranjay Gulati (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Organizational Behavior ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 317
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-8554 (Phone)
617-496-6568 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.hbs.edu

Sameer B. Srivastava

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

2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-643-5922 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.haas.berkeley.edu/srivastava

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