A New Order of Things: Network Mechanisms of Field Evolution in the Aftermath of an Exogenous Shock



This study examines the role of a major environmental shock in triggering change in the social structure of an organizational field. Based on the longitudinal analysis of changing network configurations in the global airline industry, we explore how logics of attachment shift before, during and after an exogenous shock and how the rewiring of network ties in response to the shock may act as a countervailing force to the network dynamics that drive field stratification. Using the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001 as a natural experiment, our work reveals how shocks may affect key mechanisms of network evolution thus altering tie distribution and access among members of the field. Overall this article contributes to emergent literature on field dynamics by exposing the evolution of interorganizational dynamics when external events produce unsettled times that render extant logics brittle and open prospect for change.