Title: Structural antecedents of corporate network evolution

Authors: Frank Wijen, Niels Noorderhaven, Wim Vanhaverbeke

Addresses: Department of Strategic Management and Business Environment, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, P.O. Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands. ' Department of Organisation and Strategy, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Tilburg University, P.O. Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands. ' Department of Business Studies, Hasselt University, Agoralaan Bldg D, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium; ESADE Business School, Av. Pearson 60-62, 08034 Barcelona, Spain; Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, Vlamingenstraat 83, 3000 Leuven, Belgium

Abstract: While most network studies adopt a static view, we argue that corporate social networks are subject to endogenous dynamics of cognitive path dependence and self-reinforcing power relations. Over time, these dynamics drive corporate networks to become increasingly focused (i.e., more homogeneous, stable, and tightly knit). More focused networks induce organisations to perpetuate existing routines, at the expense of developing new capabilities. We examine the role of organisational structure in maintaining balanced, rather than focused, networks, so that business organisations can realise progressive and timely adjustments to their evolving environments. We develop a theoretical argument, illustrated with the divergent network adjustment patterns of two large, mature companies, suggesting that business organisations with the following structural antecedents are likely to maintain balanced networks: the concurrence of centralisation and decentralisation; a high degree of differentiation and an intermediate level of integration; and an intermediate degree of formalisation.

Keywords: social networking; organisational structure; routines; corporate network evolution; corporate networks; corporate social networks; cognitive path dependence; power relations; balanced networks; focused networks; centralisation; decentralisation; differentiation; integration; formalisation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBE.2011.041592

International Journal of Business Environment, 2011 Vol.4 No.3, pp.207 - 233

Received: 23 Jul 2010
Accepted: 03 Sep 2010

Published online: 27 Jul 2011 *

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