Edited by John B. Davis and Wilfred Dolfsma
Wilfred Dolfsma and Rick Aalbers 1. Introduction Prominent economic sociologist Richard Swedberg (2005) has argued that social networks and the theory that has emerged from their study form the cutting edge of economic sociology. They also oﬀer a promising avenue for future, interdisciplinary research. In addition to this, social networks are implicated in the full range of activities related to economic growth, from technological innovation to investment in physical, human and social capital, and to trade. The term ‘network’ is, however, used in a number of diﬀerent ways. Some use it metaphorically, indicating that a number of actors have some kind of relations giving rise to some kind of eﬀect. Actor–network theory can be seen in this way. While this line of research has led to important insights, for instance in the development of technological knowledge (Latour, 1987), the workings of the network itself are taken into consideration only haphazardly. Some have used the term ‘network’ to point to structures that are in between market and hierarchy, hybrid forms not easily conceptualized by existing organizational theory or by mainstream economics (Powell, 1990; Ouchi, 1980). Still others have used characteristics of networks studied to include these in analyses and accounts that do not place the study of networks at the center of their attention. Finally, there is an increasing number of scholars, stretching across the disciplinary ﬁelds of sociology, psychology, management, mathematics and even economics, that devote their attention primarily to the networks themselves, their workings and...
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