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The Temptation of Social Ties: When Interpersonal Network Transactions Hurt Firm Performance

Author

Listed:
  • Leif Brandes

    () (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)

  • Marc Brechot

    () (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)

  • Egon Franck

    () (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)

Abstract

We introduce agency concerns to social capital theory and predict that managers can use individual social capital to reduce personal effort costs, which is not in the best interest of the firm. To test this prediction, we collect data on all 8,019 hiring decisions from general managers in the National Basketball Association between 1981 and 2011. We find that managers have a clear preference for hiring players through social ties. The probability that a manager hires players from an NBA franchise to which he is socially tied is 27.6% higher than for an untied franchise. To isolate the motivation for this behavior, we complement our data with information on the sporting performance of teams. In line with agency theory, we find that the hiring of players through social ties reduces team performance. The effect is large: on average, each social-tie player reduces team winning percentage by 5.4%. Overall, this paper documents first empirical evidence that decision makers’ use of individual social capital can lead to reduced firm-level performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Leif Brandes & Marc Brechot & Egon Franck, 2011. "The Temptation of Social Ties: When Interpersonal Network Transactions Hurt Firm Performance," Working Papers 00159, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU), revised 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:iso:wpaper:0159
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social Networks; Social Capital; Principal-Agent-Relationship; Worker Allocation; Basketball;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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