Novelty Conduits and Forms of Network Ties: To Bond or to Bridge?
There is ample, cross-disciplinary evidence suggesting that network ties are key to promoting novelty. However, the network paradigm in organization and management theory offers conflicting views on what types of inter organizational ties are most valuable for organizations that are pursuing novel outcomes. Drawing on the contingent view of social capital, this study disentangles the contribution of ÔbondingÕ and ÔbridgingÕ network ties in the context of two critical conduits of novelty: new ventures and technological change. Empirical findings from a meta-analysis of 351 effect sizes nested in 67 independent samples reveals a consistent pattern of network ties-performance variations. Focusing on a two-by-two matrix that encompasses distinct conduits of novelty-new ventures and technological change-and different levels of pressures for novel outcomes-low vs. high expectation-we found two ideal profiles of network ties-context. Bridging ties are the best fit for the population of new ventures that have low pressure related to technological change. By contrast, bonding ties are more valuable for established firms for which technological change requires competition for competitive advantage. Moreover, we uncovered a pair of suboptimal equifinal designs: bonding and bridging ties are equally beneficial for the performance of new ventures that face technology-intensive environments. Surprisingly, network ties are not significantly associated with performance of established firms in less technology-intensive environments, which are typically characterized by lower pressure for novel outcomes.
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