Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

3-2016

Abstract

This study investigates the origins of variation in the structures of interorganizational networks across industries. We combine empirical analyses of existing interorganizational networks in six industries with an agent-based simulation model of network emergence. Using data on technology partnerships from 1983 to 1999 between firms in the automotive, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, chemicals, microelectronics, new materials, and telecommunications industries, 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. 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 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, which proposes a close association between the characteristics of actors’ environment and the processes of network formation among actors.

Keywords

network structure, interorganizational networks, network emergence, technological dynamism

Discipline

Organizational Behavior and Theory | Strategic Management Policy

Research Areas

Strategy and Organisation

Publication

Administrative Science Quarterly

Volume

61

Issue

1

First Page

52

Last Page

86

ISSN

0001-8392

Identifier

10.1177/0001839215609083

Publisher

SAGE

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Additional URL

http://doi.org/10.1177/0001839215609083

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