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Contradictory or compatible? reconsidering the “trade-off” between brokerage and closure on knowledge sharing

Network Strategy

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

ISSN: 0742-3322

Publication date: 25 July 2008

Abstract

Knowledge sharing is a fundamental source of competitive advantage. Social networks are thought to play an important role in knowledge sharing, but are presumed to create a trade-off such that a network can be optimized to promote either knowledge seeking or knowledge transfer, but not both. The trade-off, however, is premised on, and representative of a broader tendency to treat, brokerage and closure as contradictory network forms. We challenge this assertion and propose a theory of knowledge sharing with brokerage and closure as compatible and complementary. Evidence from a contract research and development firm broadly supports our theory. We also report the results of a simulation analysis, which illustrate that only in the extremely rare case when a network is characterized by nearly complete balance do brokerage and closure begin to create a trade-off.

Citation

Reagans, R. and McEvily, B. (2008), "Contradictory or compatible? reconsidering the “trade-off” between brokerage and closure on knowledge sharing", Baum, J.A.C. and Rowley, T.J. (Ed.) Network Strategy (Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 25), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 275-313. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0742-3322(08)25008-4

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited