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Structural Holes and Good Ideas

Article Table of Contents

Note from author: This is part of an experimental series, more-or-less based on “white papers” and academic literature, as applied to somewhat practical-ish domains.

These pages serve as a brief overview of a paper, and I’ll be able to link to this paper down the road when I what to be able to do so, without having to repeat all of this information

status: draft

Structural Holes and Good Ideas #

Paper on JSTOR, PDF available for free therein (or, as always, check a current mirror of scihub), or here

Here’s the paper abstract, lightly reformatted for readability:

This article outlines the mechanism by which brokerage provides social capital.

Opinion and behavior are more homogeneous within than between groups, so people connected across groups are more familiar with alternative ways of thinking and behaving.

Brokerage across the structural holes between groups provides a vision of options otherwise unseen, which is the mechanism by which brokerage becomes social capital.

I review evidence consistent with the hypothesis, then look at the networks around managers in a large American electronics company.

The organization is rife with structural holes, and brokerage has its expected correlates.

Compensation, positive performance evaluations, promotions, and good ideas are disproportionately in the hands of people whose networks span structural holes. The between-group brokers are more likely to express ideas, less likely to have ideas dismissed, and more likely to have ideas evaluated as valuable. I close with implications for creativity and structural change.

On page 387, the section under Creativity, is worth reading.

Basically, people who bring ideas from one domain/network along with them into another domain/network can create substantial value.

Conclusion #

Footnotes #