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Network centrality and innovation performance: the role of formal and informal institutions in emerging economies

Haifeng Wang (Shanghai International Studies University, Shanghai, China)
Yapu Zhao (Tongji University, Shanghai, China)
Beilei Dang (Nanjing University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China)
Pengfei Han (Nanjing University of Finance and Economics, Nanjing, China)
Xin Shi (Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK; School of Management, Shanghai University, Shanghai, China and Karaganda State Medical University, Karaganda, Kazakhstan)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 11 March 2019

Issue publication date: 7 October 2019




The impact of network centrality on innovation performance is inconclusive. The purpose of this paper is to examine how formal and informal institutions affect the influence of network centrality on firms’ innovation performance in emerging economies by integrating social network theory and institutional theory.


Multisource and lagged data from 234 technology-based entrepreneurial firms listed on the Chinese Growth Enterprise Market were leveraged to test a proposed research model.


Results suggest that formal institutions (marketization) positively moderate the relationship between network centrality and innovation performance, whereas informal institutions (social cohesion) negatively moderate this relationship. Moreover, formal and informal institutions have a strong joint impact on such relationship, that is, the effect of network centrality on innovation performance is most positive when marketization is high and social cohesion is low.


This empirical research provides new insights into whether and how firms can grasp the innovation benefits of network centrality by exploring institutional contingencies. It further sheds on light the scope of the network centrality–innovation issue by extending its research context to Chinese entrepreneurial firms.



This paper forms part of a special section “Institutional environment and collaborations/consolidations in B2B”, guest edited by En Xie, Zhi Yang and K.S. Reddy.

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71421002; 71802149), Foundation of Shanghai International Studies University (No. 2018114053), and China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (No. 2018M642091).


Wang, H., Zhao, Y., Dang, B., Han, P. and Shi, X. (2019), "Network centrality and innovation performance: the role of formal and informal institutions in emerging economies", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 34 No. 6, pp. 1388-1400.



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