Journal of Organizational Behavior

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Volume 40 Issue 3 (March 2019), Pages 231-385

Teams as boundaries: How intra‐team and inter‐team brokerage influence network changes in knowledge‐seeking networks (pages 325-341)

Summary What role does an ego's brokerage location—within a team (intra‐team) or outside the team (inter‐team)—play in the evolution of an instrumental knowledge‐seeking network in terms of both proximal (i.e., within the team) and distal (i.e., outside the team) tie formation and tie decay? We address this question by drawing on literature about social networks, brokerage, and teams. We use temporally separated data from 302 students embedded in 97 teams to test our hypotheses about the impacts of intra‐team and inter‐team brokerage on proximal and distal network evolution, specifically on four network changes in knowledge‐seeking networks: proximal tie formation, proximal tie decay, distal tie formation, and distal tie decay. We find that these four changes depend on individual network brokerage location even after controlling for personality and task characteristics. Specifically, inter‐team brokers change their networks both within and outside their teams, whereas intra‐team brokers curtail their network changes. We argue that these opposite effects occur because inter‐team brokers have greater autonomy than intra‐team brokers. This study adds to the ongoing dialog about network evolution in social network literature and to the conversations about brokerage and its location in the context of team‐based work.

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