Structure in context: A morphological view of whole network performance

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Network perspectives in organizational research have focused primarily on how the embeddedness of actors shapes individual, or nodal, outcomes. Against this backdrop, a growing number of researchers have begun to adopt a wider lens on organizational networks, shifting the focus to collective, or whole network, performance. Yet, efforts to understand the relationship between whole network structure and whole network performance have produced conflicting findings, which suggests that a different approach may be needed. Drawing on macrostructural sociology, we propose a “whole network morphology” framework, which argues the whole network structure-performance relationship is contingent on other fundamental—relational and cultural—whole network dimensions. Subsequently, we undertake an application of our framework, through which we demonstrate how a morphological view helps address conflicting findings on the structure-performance relationship. We study 250 whole interorganizational networks known as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), which collectively comprise more than 44,000 healthcare organizations and 250,000 physicians. Consistent with previous work, we do not find a clear association between structural connectedness and performance. However, we find that a more disconnected network structure is associated with negative ACO performance when the relational strength of network ties is high. We also find evidence of better ACO performance in the presence of a physician cultural orientation when the whole network is more connected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-182
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Networks
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • ACO
  • Culture
  • Healthcare
  • Morphology
  • Performance
  • Structure
  • Whole networks

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