In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Social Ties and Network Structure

  • Introduction
  • Collaboration and Knowledge Networks
  • Networks, Personality, and Individual Differences
  • Entrepreneurial and Family Business Networks
  • Networks and Social Media

Management Social Ties and Network Structure
Sana Ansari, Dalhia Mani
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 November 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 November 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0186


The field of social networks focuses on the relationships among social actors, and on patterns that emerge from the structure of the social network and its implications (Wasserman and Faust’s Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications). Social network research argues that actors (e.g., individuals or firms) are embedded within a network of relations, and that their behavior and choices cannot be studied independent of the social relations that shape and structure behavior. Social network perspective views relations among the social actors as ties and regular patterns in relationship as structure. Ties are the relational linkages that allow flow of resources between the actors, both tangible and intangible. Multiple actors form a web of relational ties, which can be either economic, social, or political. Networks can be of different types based on the content of the relational tie between the actors. For instance, collaboration ties between actors make a collaboration network or a co-author relation between actors makes a co-authorship network. Networks can also be at different levels of analysis—for instance, an intraorganizational friendship network is at the level of individuals while a network of intercountry trade relations is at the level of country. Ties between actors can be of different strengths (for instance, friends who meet daily versus once a year) and can also be negative or positive ties (e.g., competition networks versus collaboration networks). This article summarizes the latest research on social ties and network structure by focusing on the main thematic discussions in the field: (1) networks and strategic, governance behavior; (2) workplace networks; (3) collaboration and knowledge networks; (4) networks, personality, and individual differences; (5) entrepreneurial and family business networks; and (6) networks and social media. To ensure a comprehensive review of the topic, the article used search keywords, “networks,” or “network structure,” or “social networks,” or “social ties,” and was limited to articles in the top fourteen management journals, namely: Academy of Management Journal, Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, Management Science, American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Business Venturing, and Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. The search was further limited to the six-year period from 2014–2019, since previous articles on organizational networks and brokerage in Oxford Bibliographies have summarized the research in this domain prior to 2014.

Networks and Strategic, Governance Behavior

Organizations are embedded within a social network, and the network perspective helps predict when interorganizational ties form and the consequences of those ties (on firm profitability, innovation, and other outcomes). These ties can take the form of corporate ownership (one firm owns a share in another firm), partnerships or alliances between firms (e.g., licensing or marketing agreements), director interlocks or director ties (two firms have the same director), or VC-startup investment ties. This research is discussed in detail under the following subsections: Network Position, Firm Performance, and Strategic Decision and Formation and Dissolution of Intercorporate Ties.

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