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Niches, Networks and The Propensity of Organizations to Collaborate: Theories Models and Empirical Tests

Applicant Lomi Alessandro
Number 124537
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Istituto Media e Giornalismo Facoltà di Scienze della comunicazione Università della Svizzera italiana
Institution of higher education Università della Svizzera italiana - USI
Main discipline Science of management
Start/End 01.05.2009 - 30.04.2012
Approved amount 310'394.00
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Keywords (8)

interorganizational relations; networks; cooperation and competition; organizational niches; inter-organizational collaboration; niche overlap; hospitals; social networks

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
The purpose of this project is to establish a general model to reconcile apparently contentious theoretical interpretations of the effects of similarity in resource dependence profiles on the propensity of organizations to collaborate. According to the first interpretation the more two organizations depend on similar resources - i.e., the more their niches overlap - the more intense is their rivalry. Because competition erodes social relations, the lower will be the propensity of rival organizations to cooperate. According to the second interpretation organizations made similar by overlapping niches will find it less costly to communicate across their boundaries and manage their joint resource dependencies by establishing - rather than severing - exchange relations with other organizations. We argue that the rapprochement of conflicting theoretical visions is possible in the context of a model that admits the presence of a non-monotonic relation between similarity in patterns of resource dependence and inter-organizational collaboration. In the model that we propose the propensity of organizations to collaborate is controlled by two opposing forces - opportunity for cooperation and rivalry - that depend on niche overlap. Opportunities for cooperation increase with niche overlap, but at a decreasing rate. Rivalry increases with niche overlap at an increasing rate. The main implication of these assumptions is a non-monotonic relation between similarity resource dependence profiles and the propensity of interdependent organizations to collaborate and exchange resources. We provide an empirical test of the model using data on all the organizations providing health care services in one of the largest Italian regions. We chose this particular setting because hospitals operate in environments that pose both competitive and institutional constraints. As a consequence, managing cooperation via resource exchange, and dealing with competition triggered by dependence on similar resources are equally important processes for these organizations. The target data set will contain information on dyadic relations defined in terms of exchange of patients among all the 111 hospital organizations operating in the given region. The observation time frame spans 4 years. Under assumptions of a balanced panel design the final sample will consist of 48,840 dyadic observations. The analytical part of the project involves the estimation of stochastic models for discrete counts. Because the analysis of dyadic data poses complicated inferential problems induced by the lack of independence of the observations, statistical models for social networks will also be estimated.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Relational collaboration among spatial multipoint competitors
Lomi Alessandro, Pallotti Francesca (2012), Relational collaboration among spatial multipoint competitors, in Social Networks, 34(1), 101-111.
Network influence and organizational performance: The effects of tie strength and structural equivalence
Pallotti Francesca, Lomi Alessandro (2011), Network influence and organizational performance: The effects of tie strength and structural equivalence, in European Management Journal, 29(5), 389-403.
From network ties to network structures: Exponential Random Graph Models of interorganizational relations
Pallotti Francesca, Lomi Alessandro, Mascia Daniele, From network ties to network structures: Exponential Random Graph Models of interorganizational relations, in Quality and Quantity.
How to Close a Hole: Exploring Alternative Closure Mechanisms in Inter-Organizational Networks
Lomi Alessandro, Pallotti Francesca, How to Close a Hole: Exploring Alternative Closure Mechanisms in Inter-Organizational Networks, in Johan Koskinen, Garry Robins , Dean Lusher (ed.), Cambridge University Press, New York.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
XXXII International Sunbelt Social Network Conference 12.03.2012 Redondo Beach, California
Invited Guest Speaker, European Science Foundation (ESF) Program on Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences (QMSS) Program 29.08.2011 Groningen, The Netherlands
2011 Academy of Management Annual Meeting 12.08.2011 San Antonio, Texas
Invited presentation, ICOS Seminar Series 26.02.2011 University of Michigan
XXXI International Sunbelt Social Network Conference 08.02.2011 St. Pete Beach, Florida (USA)
2010 Academy of Management Annual Meeting 06.08.2010 Montréal, Canada
XXX International Sunbelt Social Network Conference 29.06.2010 Riva del Garda, Italy
Keynote Speaker, 9th POLNET International Summer School on the Analysis of Political and Managerial Networks 30.08.2009 University of Venice, Italy
Invited Speaker, European Science Foundation (ESF) Quantitative Methods in the Social Science (QMSS) Program. 27.08.2009 Groningen, The Netherlands
2009 Academy of Management Annual Meeting 07.08.2009 Chicago, Illinois (USA)
Invited keynote addressed at the 5th UK Social Networks Conference 03.07.2009 University of Greenwich, London


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Multilevel Network Conference 12.09.2011 Lugano, Switzerland

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
146763 The network dynamic of absorptive capacity: Models and empirical tests 01.09.2013 Project funding (Div. I-III)
117874 Networks, resources and the evolution of organizational size distributions: Theories, models and empirical tests 01.10.2007 Project funding (Div. I-III)
111631 Dynamics of actors and networks across levels: individuals, groups, organizations, and social settings 01.09.2006 Project funding (special)
133273 Network influence and organizational performance: Empirical evidence from a longitudinal study of an Italian community of hospital organizations 01.01.2012 Project funding (special)

Abstract

The purpose of this project is to establish a general model to reconcile apparently contentious theo-retical interpretations of the effects of similarity in resource dependence profiles on the propensity of organi-zations to collaborate. According to the first interpretation the more two organizations depend on similar resources - i.e., the more their niches overlap - the more intense is their rivalry. Because competition erodes social relations, the lower will be the propensity of rival organizations to cooperate. According to the second interpretation organizations made similar by overlapping niches will find it less costly to communicate across their boundaries and manage their joint resource dependencies by establishing - rather than severing - ex-change relations with other organizations.We argue that the rapprochement of conflicting theoretical visions is possible in the context of a model that admits the presence of a non-monotonic relation between similarity in patterns of resource de-pendence and inter-organizational collaboration. In the model that we propose the propensity of organiza-tions to collaborate is controlled by two opposing forces - opportunity for cooperation and rivalry - that de-pend on niche overlap. The model makes two main assumptions. The first is that opportunities for coopera-tion increase with niche overlap, but at a decreasing rate. The second is that rivalry increases with niche over-lap at an increasing rate. The main implication of these assumptions is a non-monotonic relation between similarity resource dependence profiles and the propensity of interdependent organizations to collaborate and exchange resources. The main analytical task of the project is to provide an empirical test of the model using data on all the organizations providing health care services to a target population of approximately 5,300,000 residents in one of the largest Italian regions. We chose this particular setting because hospitals operate in environments that pose both competitive and institutional constraints. As a consequence, managing cooperation via interor-ganizational resource exchange, and dealing with competition triggered by dependence on similar resources are equally important processes for these organizations. The target data set will contain information on dyadic relations defined in terms of exchange of pa-tients among all the 111 hospital organizations operating in the given region. The observation time frame spans 4 years. Under assumptions of a balanced panel design the final sample will consist of 48,840 dyadic observations. Detailed information on each individual organization is available and has already been partly coded. The full longitudinal data will be made available by the Catholic University of Rome in the context of an international partnership with the University of Lugano. The analytical part of the project involves the estimation of stochastic models for discrete counts. Because the analysis of dyadic data poses complicated inferential problems induced by the lack of independ-ence of the observations, statistical models for social networks will also be estimated. Exponential random graph models (ERGM) will be estimated on the individual yearly panels. Statistical models developed specifi-cally for dynamic network panel data will also be estimated as full sample comes to fruition. The bodies of contemporary organizational research that provide the theoretical backbone of the project are interorganizational resource dependence and organizational niche theories. During the last fifteen years the Proponent has contributed a number of papers and three books to these strands of organizational research. The project that is being proposed represents a natural extension of the research interests and activi-ties of the Proponent who is currently involved in at least two research projects that, although distinct, are related to the current proposal. The first is a European Collaborative Research Project on the “Co-evolution of networks and behavior” supported by the European Science Foundation and by the Swiss NSF. The sec-ond project on “Modeling Cross-Level Interactions in Complex Networked Social Systems,” is supported by the Australian Research Council.
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