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A multilevel framework of firm boundaries: firm characteristics, dyadic differences, and network attributes


  • Haibin Yang
  • Zhiang (John) Lin
  • Ya (Lisa) Lin


Extending prior firm boundary research that tends to focus on economic explanations and rely on atomistic assumptions, we propose a multilevel framework by bridging the resource‐based view and the social network perspective, with their respective emphases on the importance of firms' internal resource endowments and external resource opportunities. Specifically, we argue that firms' boundary choices can be better understood by considering the tension between the need for external resources and the need for risk controls, affected by internal and external resource factors at three important levels: firm characteristics, dyadic differences, and network attributes. We also explore firms' boundary choices under two conditions: whether to initiate external relationships (non‐partnering vs. partnering) and whether to pursue either alliances or acquisitions if external relationships are needed. Our analyses of the United States computer industry over a nine‐year span largely support our theoretical framework and demonstrate the importance of unique factors at and across individual, dyadic, and network levels in understanding firms' boundary choices. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Haibin Yang & Zhiang (John) Lin & Ya (Lisa) Lin, 2010. "A multilevel framework of firm boundaries: firm characteristics, dyadic differences, and network attributes," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(3), pages 237-261, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:stratm:v:31:y:2010:i:3:p:237-261
    DOI: 10.1002/smj.815

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    Cited by:

    1. Haifeng Wang & Longwei Tian & Yuan Li, 2019. "A tale of two cultures: Social networks and competitive advantage," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 321-347, June.
    2. Patrícia Lopes Costa & Ana Margarida Graça & Pedro Marques-Quinteiro & Catarina Marques Santos & António Caetano & Ana Margarida Passos, 2013. "Multilevel Research in the Field of Organizational Behavior," SAGE Open, , vol. 3(3), pages 21582440134, August.
    3. Dong-Young Kim & Pengcheng Zhu & Wenli Xiao & Yen-Ting Lin, 2020. "Customer degree centrality and supplier performance: the moderating role of resource dependence," Operations Management Research, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 22-38, June.
    4. Justin Tan & Hongjuan Zhang & Liang Wang, 2015. "Network Closure or Structural Hole? The Conditioning Effects of Network–Level Social Capital on Innovation Performance," Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, , vol. 39(5), pages 1189-1212, September.
    5. Zhou, Dan & Yan, Tingting & Zhao, Lilong & Guo, Jingjing, 2020. "Performance implications of servitization: Does a Manufacturer's service supply network matter?," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 219(C), pages 31-42.
    6. Hongjuan Zhang & Liang Wang & Rong Han, 2019. "The China-West divide on social capital: A meta-analysis," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 745-772, September.
    7. Jinsil Kim & Kyun Kim, 2018. "How does local partners network embeddedness affect international joint venture survival in different subnational contexts?," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 35(4), pages 1055-1080, December.
    8. Wesley Mendes-da-Silva, 2011. "Small Worlds and Board Interlocking in Brazil: A Longitudinal Study of Corporate Networks, 1997-2007," Brazilian Review of Finance, Brazilian Society of Finance, vol. 9(4), pages 465-492.
    9. Amalesh Sharma & V. Kumar & Jun Yan & Sourav Bikash Borah & Anirban Adhikary, 2019. "Understanding the structural characteristics of a firm’s whole buyer–supplier network and its impact on international business performance," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 50(3), pages 365-392, April.
    10. Li, Xiaoqing & Fung, Anna & Fung, Hung-Gay & Qiao, Penghao, 2020. "Directorate interlocks and corporate cash holdings in emerging economies: Evidence from China," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 244-260.
    11. Viacheslav Iurkov & Gabriel R G Benito, 2018. "Domestic alliance networks and regional strategies of MNEs: A structural embeddedness perspective," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 49(8), pages 1033-1059, October.

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