We argue for a broadened approach to brokerage by distinguishing between brokerage emphasizing a particular structural pattern in which two otherwise disconnected alters are connected through a third party (“brokerage structure”) and the social behavior of third parties (“brokerage process”). We explore a processual view of brokerage by examining three fundamental strategic orientations toward brokerage: conduit, tertius gaudens, and tertius iungens that occur in many different forms and combinations. This processual view is especially relevant in increasingly complex and dynamic environments where brokerage behavior is highly varied, intense, and purposeful, and has theoretical implications for studying multiplexity, heterogeneity, and brokerage intensity.
We would like to thank Paul Adler, Lorenzo Bizzi, Yuval Kalish, Andrew Shipilov, Atul Teckchandani, Omar Lizardo, Jennifer Merluzzi, Ezra Zuckerman, and all the editors of this volume for their enormously helpful remarks.
Obstfeld, D., Borgatti, S.P. and Davis, J. (2014), "Brokerage as a Process: Decoupling Third Party Action from Social Network Structure", Contemporary Perspectives on Organizational Social Networks (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 40), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 135-159. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X(2014)0000040007
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