Serendipity vs Strategy: A Tale of Two Theories



Serendipity vs Strategy: A Tale of Two Theories
Conventional wisdom holds that weak ties are merely correlates of structural holes, obscuring the control benefits of bridging ties (Burt, 1992). I challenge this conventional wisdom to show that weak tie theory and structural hole theory are different in many respects, including the motivating spirit of the two theories. Whereas weak tie theory builds from the notion that the benefits to be gained from social exchange are often serendipitous and community-wide, such that "much social capital rises and disappears without anyone's willing it into or out of being" (Coleman, 1990), the structural hole approach is much more specific in emphasizing the immediate ways in which individuals can gain advantages. I discuss some original predictions from weak ties theory. The conclusion is not that one theory is better than the other or that one theory incorporates the other, but that the two theories are quite distinct, and that together they enrich the possibilities of empirical research.
Subsequent to Martin Kilduff's presentation, Evgenia Dolgova from the Strategy Department will present one of her recent working papers on the topic to facilitate discussion and develop our understanding of the role and value of social networks at the point where the two presented papers meet. 
Birds of the Feather Flock together 2.0: Is there a personality based homophily?
Although profound evidence of psychological antecedents of social network structures exists, personality-based homophily has not been adressed up until now. This paper investigates the effects of similarity / complimentarity along Five Factor Model personality dimentions on tie strength.
Contact information:
Carolien Heintjes