Environmental Demands and the Emergence of Social Structure: Technological Dynamism and Interorganizational Network Forms

Administrative Science Quarterly, 61 (2016): 52-86

Ross School of Business Paper No. 1282

49 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2015 Last revised: 28 Jan 2016

See all articles by Adam Tatarynowicz

Adam Tatarynowicz

Singapore Management University - Lee Kong Chian School of Business

Maxim Sytch

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Ranjay Gulati

Harvard Business School - Organizational Behavior

Date Written: June 19, 2015

Abstract

This study investigates the origins of variation in the structures of 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 variations in firms’ collaborative behaviors. On average, firms in technologically dynamic industries pursue more open ego networks, which fosters access to new and diverse resources that help sustain continuous innovation. In contrast, firms in technologically stable industries on average pursue more closed ego networks, which fosters reliable collaboration and helps 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 structural forms. Technologically stable industries feature clan networks, characterized by low network connectedness and rather strong community structures. Technologically dynamic industries, in turn, feature community networks, characterized by high network connectedness and medium-to-strong community structures. Convention networks, which feature high network connectedness and weak community structures, were not evident among the empirical networks we examined. Taken together, our findings advance an environmental contingency theory of network formation.

Keywords: networks, strategic alliances, dynamics

JEL Classification: M10

Suggested Citation

Tatarynowicz, Adam and Sytch, Maxim and Gulati, Ranjay, Environmental Demands and the Emergence of Social Structure: Technological Dynamism and Interorganizational Network Forms (June 19, 2015). Administrative Science Quarterly, 61 (2016): 52-86; Ross School of Business Paper No. 1282. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2620628 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2620628

Adam Tatarynowicz (Contact Author)

Singapore Management University - Lee Kong Chian School of Business ( email )

50 Stamford Road
Singapore 178899
+65 6828 0028 (Phone)
+65 6828 0777 (Fax)

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

Maxim Sytch

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

Ranjay Gulati

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

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