While network research has become increasingly important to our understanding of organizations, there is growing speculation that the current structural approach may misspecify the nature of network effects by ignoring variation in the content of relational ties (e.g., Podolny and Baron 1997). Network research to date has focused on the structural properties of networks—the overall patterns of connection—to the neglect of qualitative dimensions of relationships (Ibarra 1992). Several recent studies have explicitly called for new research dedicated to “delineating the critical role of tie content” in organizational networks (Gulati and Westphal 1999: 499). Studying tie content, according to these authors, would mean looking closely at the nature of the underlying relationship between actors rather than assuming that content either doesn’t matter or that all ties are essentially instrumental (Adler and Kwon 1999).Variations in tie content are not well understood, although they have been linked to outcomes as various as strategic alliances among firms and individual promotion within firms (Gulati and Westphal 1999; Podolny and Baron 1997).
- networks; investment clubs; performance; small groups