The Division of Network Ties and Innovation

Research Team: Anne ter Wal and Paola Criscuolo

Research on second-order social capital has established that individuals may not only benefit from their own social capital, but they may also benefit from the network ties of those with whom they work closely. Yet, it is unclear whether individuals benefit more if their co-workers’ networks duplicate ties to the same groups in the organisation, or if they offer ties to parties they are unconnected with.

Using the concept of network role equivalence – the extent to which two individuals are tied to the same role sets inside an organisation – our research builds and tests a theory of the division of network ties that advances our understanding of the circumstances under which individuals benefit from equivalent versus non-equivalent second-order social capital. We examine this research question using a mixed-method approach to exploit a unique setting of manager and technologist R&D professionals who are partnered-up in their pursuit of innovation.

In particular, we test how managers’ (technologists’) innovation performance depends on their own network resources, their technology (manager) partners’ network resources and the degree of role equivalence between them.