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The larger, the fitter, the better: clans' evolution, social capital and effectiveness

Yiqi Li (School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA)
Nathan Bartley (Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Jingyi Sun (School of Business, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey, USA)
Dmitri Williams (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 2 August 2022




Team social capital (TSC) has been attracting increasing research attention aiming to explore team effectiveness through within- and cross-team resource conduits. This study bridges two disconnected theories – TSC and evolutionary theory – to examine gaming clans and analyzes mechanisms of the clans' TSC building from an evolutionary perspective.


This research draws longitudinal data from a sample of gaming teams (N = 1,267) from anonymized player data from the game World of Tanks spanning 32 months. The authors explored teams' evolutionary patterns using hidden Markov models and applied longitudinal multilevel modeling to test hypotheses.


The results showed that teams of different sizes and levels of evolutionary fitness vary in team closure and bridging social capital. The authors also found that larger teams are more effective than smaller ones. The positive association between team-bridging social capital and effectiveness is more substantial for smaller teams.


This research advances the theoretical development of TSC by including the constructs of teams' evolutionary status when analyzing strategic social capital building. Adding to existing literature studying the outcome of TSC, this research also found a moderating effect of team size between TSC and effectiveness. Finally, this study also contributes to a longitudinal view of TSC and found significant evolutionary patterns of teams' membership, TSC, and effectiveness.



The authors thank Wargaming for the cooperation and Eugene Kislyi and Jeremy Ballenger for the helpful feedback.


Li, Y., Bartley, N., Sun, J. and Williams, D. (2022), "The larger, the fitter, the better: clans' evolution, social capital and effectiveness", Internet Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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