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The structural evolution of multiplex organizational networks: Research and commerce in biotechnology

Network Strategy

ISBN: 978-0-7623-1442-3, eISBN: 978-1-84950-531-4

Publication date: 25 July 2008


Inter-organizational alliances and the networks they generate have been a central topic in organization theory over the last decade. However, network analyses per se have been static. Even when information over time has been available, the temporal component has been set aside or aggregated to the end point of the study. Substantially more research has been conducted on organizations initiating inter-organizational relationships. The organization-level research has been decidedly dynamic in nature. However, organization-level research has largely examined the structural characteristics of the networks generated by organizational actions. Work combining network-level and organization-level phenomena has been rare and, to our knowledge, no research including the effects of organization-level actions on the evolution of network-level phenomena has occurred.

In this chapter we use more than 6000 R&D alliances and more than 6500 M&D alliances initiated by more than 1000 biotech firms in the U.S. over a 30 year period to construct quarterly networks. We test 13 hypotheses linking the actions of the firms to changes in network structure. Utilizing hazard-rate models we test the effects of institutional status, positional status (centrality), and structural status (coreness) of firms on their propensity to form ties with different structural consequences. Our research indicates that both R&D and M&D networks in U.S. biotechnology are developing a distinct core/periphery structure over time. Furthermore, we find support for a process of preferential attachment wherein organizations are more likely to form ties with organizations of similar institutional and structural status. Furthermore, we find evidence for cross effects, for example attachment processes that enfold across the two networks.


Amburgey, T.L., Al-Laham, A., Tzabbar, D. and Aharonson, B. (2008), "The structural evolution of multiplex organizational networks: Research and commerce in biotechnology", Baum, J.A.C. and Rowley, T.J. (Ed.) Network Strategy (Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 25), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 171-209.



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