Sub-theme 07: [SWG] Beyond Social Relations – Different Forms and Shapes of Networks

Julia Brennecke
University of Potsdam, Germany, & University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
Francesca Pallotti
University of Greenwich, United Kingdom
Marco Tortoriello
Bocconi University, Italy

Call for Papers

The popularity currently enjoyed by network ideas in organization studies (for recent reviews, see for instance Chen et al., 2022; Kwon et al., 2020) is only in part due to the rapid diffusion of social network models, data and imagery. Equally important is the rediscovery of a fundamental insight about the relation of mutual constitution linking organizational participants to multiple objects, setting, practices, events or activities (Breiger, 1974; 2000). Relations of mutual constitution are not “social” in the conventional sense of the term because they connect different classes of objects – frequently across levels of organizational analysis (Lomi et al., 2016). Examples that illustrate the latitude and the multilevel implications of this insight for organizational analysis may be found in studies that have explored the dual association between, for instance:

  • Organizations and competitive niches, on networks of inventions (Podolny et al., 1996).

  • Organizations and audiences, on the generalization of structural equivalence to incorporate the duality of micro‐ and macro‐level entities (Kovacs, 2014).

  • Venture capitalists and investment syndicates, on geographically and industry distant ties (Sorenson and Stuart, 2008).

  • Corporate inventors and knowledge elements, on the interplay between individual and knowledge networks (Brennecke and Rank, 2017).

  • Organizations and organizational units, on multilevel networks (Hollway et al., 2017).

The extensive literature available is scattered across a considerable variety of theoretical perspectives and lacks a unitary character beyond the recognition – more or less explicitly – that elements standing in a relation of mutual constitution can only be defined and understood in terms of one another.

Via this sub-theme, we seek to attract contributions that forward and multiply these lines of research by examining how networks of association, membership and correspondence relations within and between organizations shape organizational identities and, dually, the identity of organizational members. We are interested in understanding how systems of similarities and differences socially constructed from the multiple affiliation networks in which organizations are embedded affect organizational structures, outcomes, and behavioral orientation.


Breiger, R.L. (1974): “The duality of persons and groups.” Social Forces, 53 (2), 181–190.
  • Breiger, R.L. (2000): “A tool kit for practice theory.” Poetics, 27 (2–3), 91–115.
  • Brennecke, J., & Rank, O.N. (2017): “The firm’s knowledge network and the transfer of advice among corporate inventors: A multilevel network study.” Research Policy, 46 (4), 768–783.
  • Chen, H., Mehra, A., Tasselli, S., & Borgatti, S.P. (2022): “Network Dynamics and Organizations: A Review and Research Agenda. Journal of Management, 48 (6), 1602–1660.
  • Hollway, J., Lomi, A., Pallotti, F., & Stadtfeld, C. (2017): “Multilevel social spaces: The network dynamics of organizational fields.” Network Science, 5 (2), 187–212.
  • Kovács, B. (2014): “The duality of organizations and audiences.” Analytical Sociology 2014, 397–418.
  • Kwon, S.-W., Rondi, E., Levin, D., De Massis, A., & Brass, D. (2020): “Network brokerage: An integrative review and future research agenda.” Journal of Management, 46 (6), 1092–1120.
  • Lomi, A., Robins, G., & Tranmer, M. (2016): “Introduction to multilevel social networks.” Social Networks, 100 (44), 266–268.
  • Podolny, J.M., Stuart, T.E., & Hannan, M.T. (1996): “Networks, knowledge, and niches: Competition in the worldwide semiconductor industry, 1984–1991.” American Journal of Sociology, 102 (3), 659–689.
  • Sorenson, O., & Stuart, T.E. (2008): “Bringing the context back in: Settings and the search for syndicate partners in venture capital investment networks.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 53 (2), 266–294.
Julia Brennecke is Professor of Innovation Management at the University of Potsdam, Germany, and at the University of Liverpool, UK. 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. Julia’s work has been published in the ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Academy of Management Annals’, and ‘Research Policy’, among others.
Francesca Pallotti is Associate Professor in Economic Sociology at the University of Greenwich, Business School, UK. Her research focuses on the antecedents and consequences of inter- and intra-organizational networks, and on network dynamics.
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.