Structural holes and individual performance: Causal evidence from a field experiment



While research has provided ample empirical support for a positive association between network positions spanning structural holes and individual outcomes - such as career advancement, compensation, innovation, creativity, and performance - empirical evidence of a direct causal relationship is still lacking. The goal of this paper is to provide evidence of such causal impact on several individual outcomes. We do so by leveraging a randomized field experiment realized in the context of a large apprenticeship program, where we implemented a pretest-posttest control group design on a population of 613 newcomer-supervisor dyads working in 433 firms across more than 15 industries. Our findings contribute to the organizational networks literature by providing evidence of a positive, causal relationship of spanning structural holes on task performance, newcomer ability and organizational knowledge, but not on the frequency and implementability of new ideas. We also add to socialization studies by further specifying how newcomers’ evolving networks affect socialization adjustment, thus carrying practical implications for new employees aiming to purposefully shape their networks when integrating into new organizations.

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Meeting ID: 945 9059 8345