Sub-theme 07: [SWG] Relational Pluralism in Organizational Networks

Francesca Pallotti
University of Greenwich, United Kingdom
Leon A.G. Oerlemans
Tilburg University, The Netherlands
Marco Tortoriello
Bocconi University Milan, Italy

Call for Papers

Relational pluralism or multiplexity is the existence of multiple types of relations between network actors (Shipilov et al. 2014). Regarding individual-level networks, connections among employees in the workplace often involve multiple relations simultaneously, such as formally prescribed collaboration ties, the informal transfer of knowledge or advice, or friendships (e.g., McEvily et al., 2014; Pillemer & Rothbard, 2018; Shah et al., 2017). Similarly, organizational-level networks may be characterized by the overlap of alliances or board interlocks (e.g., Beckman et al., 2014; Knoben & Bakker, 2019). In addition, “[c]alls for research that simultaneously examines positive and negative ties are becoming louder, as single-tie studies may not show the entire picture” (Kaše et al., 2013, p. 479).
Scholars investigating multiplexity typically build on structural reasoning and assume that the existence of one type of relation fosters the creation of other types of relations (e.g., Borgatti & Cross, 2003; Rank & Tuschke, 2010). By contrast, process accounts of organizational network multiplexity are very scarce (for notable exceptions, see Autry et al., 2014; Ferriani et al., 2013). A more extensive study of relational pluralism will therefore allow organizational network scholars to examine the complexities of organizational relationships in greater depth.
We welcome short paper submissions that explore, but are not limited to topics such as:

  • The role of structural and process regularities and their interplay for relational pluralism;

  • The role of actor characteristics (e.g., individuals’ cognitive capabilities personality, or skill sets; organizations’ strategies or resource endowments) as drivers of multiplexity;

  • Temporal processes in multiplex networks;

  • The content and implications of different forms of relational pluralisms (e.g., positive-negative multiplexity);

  • The outcomes of multiplexity for individuals and organizations;

  • The role of tie-strength for multiplex networks.


  • Autry, C.W., Williams, B.D., & Golicic, S. (2014): “Relational and process multiplexity in vertical supply chain triads: An exploration in the US restaurant industry.” Journal of Business Logistics, 35 (1), 52–70.
  • Beckman, C.M., Schoonhoven, C.B., Rottner, R.M., & Kim, S.J. (2014): “Relational pluralism in de novo organizations: boards of directors as bridges or barriers to diverse alliance portfolios?” Academy of Management Journal, 57 (2), 460–483.
  • Borgatti, S.P., & Cross, R. (2003): “A relational view of information seeking and learning in social networks.” Management Science, 49 (4), 432–445.
  • Ferriani, S., Fonti, F., & Corrado, R. (2013): “The social and economic bases of network multiplexity: Exploring the emergence of multiplex ties.” Strategic Organization, 11 (1), 7–34.
  • Kaše, R., King, Z., & Minbaeva, D. (2013): “Using social network research in HRM: Scratching the surface of a fundamental basis of HRM.” Human Resource Management, 52 (4), 473–483.
  • Knoben, J., & Bakker, R.M. (2019): “The guppy and the whale: Relational pluralism and start-ups’ expropriation dilemma in partnership formation.” Journal of Business Venturing, 34 (1), 103–121.
  • McEvily, B., Soda, G., & Tortoriello, M. (2014): “More formally: Rediscovering the missing link between formal organization and informal social structure.” Academy of Management Annals, 8 (1), 299–345.
  • Pillemer, J., & Rothbard, N.P. (2018): “Friends without benefits: Understanding the dark sides of workplace friendship.” Academy of Management Review, 43 (4), 635–660.
  • Rank, O.N., & Tuschke, A. (2010): “Perceived influence and friendship as antecedents of cooperation in top management teams: A network approach.” BuR – Business Research, 3 (2), 151–171.
  • Shah, N.P., Parker, A., & Waldstrøm, C. (2017): “Examining the overlap: Individual performance benefits of multiplex relationships.” Management Communication Quarterly, 31 (1), 5–38.
  • Shipilov, A., Gulati, R., Kilduff, M., Li, S., & Tsai, W. (2014): “Relational pluralism within and between organizations.” Academy of Management Journal, 57 (2), 449–459.
Francesca Pallotti is Associate Professor in Economic Sociology at the University of Greenwich, Business School, United Kingdom. Her research focuses on the antecedents and consequences of inter- and intra-organizational networks, and on network dynamics.
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.
Marco Tortoriello is Professor of Strategy and Organizations in the Department of Management and Technology at Bocconi University Milan, Italy. His research focuses on mechanisms and returns to social capital as applied to knowledge-intensive industries and organizations.