Collaboration Networks, Structural Holes, and Innovation

Recently, I discovered an article by Ahuja (2000), Collaboration Networks, Structural Holes, and Innovation: A Longitudinal Study, which was published in Administrative Science Quarterly. It contains a framework that “relates three aspects of a firm’s ego network—direct ties, indirect ties, and structural holes (disconnections between a firm’s partners)—to the firm’s subsequent innovation output.” The author suggests that “[t]he more direct ties that a firm maintains, the greater the firm’s subsequent innovation output”. Similarly, he suggests that “[t]he greater a firm’s number of indirect ties, the greater the subsequent innovation output of the firm”. Here, the impact of indirect ties “will be moderated by the level of the firm’s direct ties”. These hypotheses are supported by the results of a longitudinal study. Two competing hypotheses are presented concerning the effect of increasing structural holes on innovation. The empirical results indicate that this effect is negative. Ahuja’s article is among the most-cited ASQ articles.

Ahuja, G. (2000). Collaboration Networks, Structural Holes, and Innovation: A Longitudinal Study. Administrative Science Quarterly, 45 (3), 425-455 DOI: 10.2307/2667105

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About Andreas Wieland

Dr. Andreas Wieland is an Associate Professor of Supply Chain Risk Management at the Department of Operations Management, Copenhagen Business School. His current research interests include resilient and socially responsible supply chains.

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