The embeddedness of networks: Institutions, structural holes, and innovativeness in the fuel cell industry

Gurneeta Vasudeva, Akbar Zaheer, Exequiel Hernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations

Abstract

Plentiful research suggests that embeddedness in alliance networks influences firms' innovativeness. This research, however, has mostly overlooked the fact that interorganizational ties are themselves embedded within larger institutional contexts that can shape the effects of networks on organizational outcomes. We address this gap in the literature by arguing that national institutions affect the extent to which specific network positions, such as brokerage, influence innovation. We explore this idea in the context of corporatism, which fosters an institutional logic of collaboration that influences the broker's ability to manage its partnerships and recombine the knowledge residing in its network as well as the extent of knowledge flows among network participants. We argue that differences in institutional logics lead brokerage positions to exert different effects on firm innovativeness. We propose that the firm spanning structural holes obtains the greatest innovation benefits when the firm (the broker) or its alliance partners are based in highly corporatist countries, or under certain combinations of broker and partner corporatism. We find support for these ideas through a longitudinal study of cross-border fuel cell technology alliance networks involving 109 firms from nine countries between 1981 and 2001.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-663
Number of pages19
JournalOrganization Science
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2013

Keywords

  • Alliance networks
  • Brokerage
  • Corporatism
  • Innovation history
  • Knowledge flows
  • National institutions
  • Structural holes

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