Network dynamics and field evolution: The growth of interorganizational collaboration in the life sciences

Walter W. Powell, Kenneth W. Koput, Douglas R. White, Jason Owen-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1040 Scopus citations

Abstract

A recursive analysis of network and institutional evolution is offered to account for the decentralized structure of the commercial field of the life sciences. Four alternative logics of attachment - accumulative advantage, homophily, follow-the-trend, and multiconnectivity-are tested to explain the structure and dynamics of interorganizational collaboration in biotechnology. Using multiple novel methods, the authors demonstrate how different rules for affiliation shape network evolution. Commercialization strategies pursued by early corporate entrants are supplanted by universities, research institutes, venture capital, and small firms. As organizations increase their collaborative activities and diversify their ties to others, cohesive subnetworks form, characterized by multiple, independent pathways. These structural components, in turn, condition the choices and opportunities available to members of a field, thereby reinforcing an attachment logic based on differential connections to diverse partners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1132-1205
Number of pages74
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Volume110
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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