Professor in Political Science and Computer and Information Science

David Lazer

Social Constraints, Agency, Inter-Organizational Tie Formation and Knowledge Diffusion

Working Paper
Publication date: 
12/2011
Authors: 
David Lazer
Ines Mergel
Jason Greenberg
Maria C. Binz-Scharf
Social Constraints, Agency, Inter-Organizational Tie Formation and Knowledge Diffusion

Social capital is currently one of social structure‘s most prominent and debated manifestations. However, we have a limited understanding of how social ties as the basis of social capital form in the first place. From one perspective social capital is viewed as: "investment in social relations with expected returns in the marketplace" (Lin 2001, p. 19). A second perspective on social capital formation stresses contextual and environmental features beyond the control of individuals that may yield benefits. Both perspectives are based on premises implicating various motives and structural constraints pertaining to relationship formation including: exchange, power, and dependency; legitimacy seeking or preferential attachment based on status or prestige; homogeneity or homophily and related selection processes; propinquity; or cultural or institutional forces. These categories of mechanisms do not, however, specify a model of how social relationships as social capital are formed in the first place.

If social capital results from "investment strategies," it is important to determine what these strategies are. If social capital originates from structural factors beyond individual control it is important to clarify what mechanisms lead to tie formation within social structures.

The objective of this research is to specify mechanisms of social tie formation and reinforcement by peering inside the black-box of foci (Feld 1981) in which social ties are formed. We do so by focusing on the structural contexts within which individual (micro-level) corporate actors form social relationships for knowledge acquisition that results in macro-level knowledge sharing. A mixed-method analytical approach is employed to this end. Findings illustrate how the subtleties of social structure define the parameters within which social relationships are (strategically) formed.

Bibliographical Information: 
Greenberg, Jason, Lazer, David, Binz-Scharf, Maria C. and Mergel, Ines A., Social Constraints, Agency, Inter-Organizational Tie Formation and Knowledge Diffusion (December 26, 2011). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1977116 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1977116

Research Areas TOC

Computational Social Science, Collective Cognition

Computational Social Science, 21st Century Democracy, Political Networks, Collective Cognition, Networked Governance, Regulation, DNA and the Criminal Justice System

Computational Social Science, 21st Century Democracy, Political Networks

DNA and the Criminal Justice System