Sub-theme 07: [SWG] Organizational Network Dynamics and Churn

Julia Brennecke
University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
Leon A.G. Oerlemans
Tilburg University, The Netherlands
Marco Tortoriello
Bocconi University Milan, Italy

Call for Papers

The explicit inclusion of time and time related processes in organization and management research is a neglected area of study (Langley et al., 2013). This neglect extends to the literature on organizational networks, as witnessed by repeated calls for studies accounting for network change (e.g., Knoben et al., 2006; Phelps et al., 2012). In partial response to these calls, a timely special issue in Organization Studies (vol. 37, issue 3, March 2016) has attended to “The Transformative and Innovative Power of Network Dynamics”. In this sub-theme, we seek to enrich this nascent stream of research on organizational network dynamics and churn that should benefit greatly from improved access to longitudinal network data and new methods for dynamic network analysis (e.g., Conaldi et al., 2012; van den Bunt & Groenewegen, 2007).
Organizational network dynamics and churn concern the regularities by which networks change and evolve, as ties are created, modified, and dissolved over time. In alignment with the overall topic of the EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG) 07 on “Organization(al) Networks: Between Structure and Process”, this change comprises structural, network-endogenous regularities as well as agentic change. The structural perspective assumes that regularities for network change result from the network itself determining its future state, for instance, as prior network ties influence the emergence of future ties (Uzzi & Spiro, 2005). This perspective on network dynamics can be linked to theories of path dependence (Sydow et al., 2009), network self-organization (Robins et al., 2005), and inertia (Kim et al., 2006). The process perspective, by contrast, focuses on organizational actors purposefully choosing and orchestrating their network ties (Emirbayer & Mische, 1998), relying on instrumental networking (Brennecke, 2019; Casciaro et al., 2014). For instance, they may try to bridge structural holes (Zaheer & Soda, 2009) or strengthen or weaken their ties (Mariotti & Delbridge, 2012). Network dynamics are further influenced by exogenous events, such as technological developments (Fleming et al., 2007), performance feedback (Parker et al., 2016), or task requirements (Perry-Smith & Mannucci, 2017).
Short paper submissions to enrich the nascent research on network dynamics and churn can refer – but are not limited – to the following areas:

  • Interactions between structure and agency for network dynamics

  • Drivers and outcomes of network churn processes

  • Co-evolution of networks and organizational attributes, such as innovation

  • The role of individuals’ characteristics (e.g., cognitive capabilities, personality, skill sets, and behavior) for tie formation and dissolution

  • Cross-level similarities and differences between regularities that drive network change



  • Brennecke, J. (2019): “Dissonant Ties in Intraorganizational Networks: Why Individuals Seek Problem-Solving Assistance from Difficult Colleagues.” Academy of Management Journal, in press;
  • Casciaro, T., Gino, F., & Kouchaki, M. (2014): “The contaminating effects of building instrumental ties how networking can make us feel dirty.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 59 (4), 705–735.
  • Conaldi, G., Lomi, A., & Tonellato, M. (2012): “Dynamic models of affiliation and the network structure of problem solving in an open source software project.” Organizational Research Methods, 15 (3), 385–412.
  • Emirbayer, M., & Mische, A. (1998): “What is Agency?” American Journal of Sociology, 103 (4), 962–1023.
  • Fleming, L., King III, C., & Juda, A.I. (2007): “Small worlds and regional innovation.” Organization Science, 18 (6), 938–954.
  • Kim, T.-Y., Oh, H., & Swaminathan, A. (2006): “Framing interorganizational network change: A network inertia perspective.” Academy of Management Review, 31 (3), 704–720.
  • Knoben, J., Oerlemans, L.A.G., & Rutten, R. (2006): “Radical changes in inter-organizational network structures: The longitudinal gap.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 73 (4), 390–404.
  • Langley, A., Smallman, C., Tsoukas, H., & Van de Ven, A.H. (2013): “Process studies of change in organization and management: Unveiling temporality, activity, and flow.” Academy of Management Journal, 56 (1), 1–13.
  • Mariotti, F., & Delbridge, R. (2012): “Overcoming network overload and redundancy in interorganizational networks: The roles of potential and latent ties.” Organization Science, 23 (2), 511–528.
  • Parker, A., Halgin, D.S., & Borgatti, S.P. (2016): “Dynamics of social capital: Effects of performance feedback on network change.” Organization Studies, 37 (3), 375–397.
  • Perry-Smith, J.E., & Mannucci, P.V. (2017): “From creativity to innovation: The social network drivers of the four phases of the idea journey.” Academy of Management Review, 42 (1), 53–79.
  • Phelps, C., Heidl, R., & Wadhwa, A. (2012): “Knowledge, networks, and knowledge networks: A review and research agenda.” Journal of Management, 38 (4), 1115–1166.
  • Robins, G.L., Pattison, P.E., & Woolcock, J. (2005): “Small and other worlds: Global network structures from local processes.” American Journal of Sociology, 110 (4), 894–936.
  • Sydow, J., Schreyögg, G., & Koch, J. (2009): „Organizational path dependence: Opening the black box.” Academy of Management Review, 34 (4), 689–709.
  • Uzzi, B., Spiro, J. (2005): “Collaboration and creativity: The small world problem.” American Journal of Sociology, 111 (2), 447–504.
  • van de Bunt, G.G., & Groenewegen, P. (2007): “An actor-oriented dynamic network approach: The case of interorganizational network evolution.” Organizational Research Methods, 10 (3), 463–482.
  • Zaheer, A., Soda, G. (2009): “Network evolution: The origins of structural holes.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 54 (1), 1–31.
Julia Brennecke is Reader in Innovation Management at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom. Her research focuses on networks in knowledge-intensive settings, with the aim of creating a better understanding of how and why network ties form, and exposing the consequences of network connections for innovation. Her work has been published in journals such as ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Research Policy’, and ‘Human Resource Management’, among others.
Leon A.G. Oerlemans is Professor in Organizational Dynamics at the Department of Organization Studies, Tilburg University, The Netherlands. His research focuses on inter-organizational relationships and networks, and temporary inter-organizational project networks. Leon has published his studies in, for example, ‘Organization Science’, ‘Organization Studies’, and ‘Journal of Management’.
Marco Tortoriello is Professor of Strategy and Organizations in the Department of Management and Technology at Bocconi University Milan, Italy. Marco’s research focuses on mechanisms and returns to social capital as applied to knowledge-intensive industries and organizations. His work has been published in journals such as ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Organization Science’, and ‘Strategic Management Journal’, among others.