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Network Architecture and Firm Performance: A Resources-Based View

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image of Frontiers of Business Research in China

Previous studies have investigated alliance networks primarily from two alternative views, a relational view that focuses on the “strength of strong/weak ties,” or a structural view that refers to a firm’s position and structural embeddedness. We posit a firm’s network architecture, i.e., the portfolio of strong/weak ties, influences its conduct and performance. From a resource-based view, the network architecture itself could be a source of sustained competitive advantage. We argue that both network architecture and duration of a firm can enhance its performance. However, their effects and the interaction are contingent on different performance outputs. Using strategic alliance networks data from a survey of the manufacturing industry in China, we examine the performance implications of network architecture. Results suggest that benefits from networks may evolve with network duration, hence firms should search for optimal network configurations. By integrating an alliance portfolio, firms with dual network architectures can enjoy both the strengths of strong ties and weak ties and avoid the risks inherent in a pure strong/weak-tie network.


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