Reorganization and Tie Decay Choices
Forthcoming, Management Science
43 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2015 Last revised: 31 Oct 2016
Date Written: October 31, 2016
Whereas most research on network evolution has focused on the role of interaction opportunities in the formation of new ties, this paper addresses tie decay choices. When the opportunity structure gets reorganized, social actors make choices about which ties to retain and which to allow to decay, informed by their past experience of the tie. I argue that conditional on changes in opportunity, people (especially those with Machiavellian personalities) choose to retain ties to valuable contacts; they retain reciprocated ties (especially with highly empathic others); and they retain socially embedded ties (especially if they are low self-monitors). The empirical design, which exploits a randomized natural experiment, confirms these hypotheses and suggests that our understanding of tie decay choices – and, consequently, of network evolution – is enhanced by an integrated theoretical perspective that encompasses both social structure and social psychology.
Keywords: social networks, network dynamics, organizational structure, natural experiments
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