Moving Beyond Stylized Economic Network Models: The Hybrid World of the Indian Firm Ownership Network


American Journal of Sociology

May 2014, vol. 119, n°6, pp.1629-1669

Departments: Strategy & Business Policy, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Network, Organization, Structure

A central theme of economic sociology has been to highlight the complexity and diversity of real-world markets, but many network models of economic social structure ignore this feature and rely instead on stylized one-dimensional characterizations. Here, we return to the basic insight of structural diversity in economic sociology. Using the Indian interorganizational ownership network as our case, we discover a composite – or “hybrid” – model of economic networks that combines elements of prior stylized models. The network contains a disconnected periphery conforming closely to a “transactional” model; a semi-periphery characterized by small, dense clusters with sporadic links, as predicted in “small world” models; and finally a nested core composed of clusters connected via multiple independent paths. We then show how a firm’s position within the meso-level structure is associated with demographic features such as age and industry, and differences in the extent to which firms engage in multiplex and high value exchanges