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Brokers in Disguise: The Interplay of Actual Brokerage and Socially Perceived Brokerage on Individual Performance

10 October 2019 at 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Room 205b, Campus on Viale Romania, 32

Speaker: Alessandro Iorio, Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University


"Recent research suggests that actors with an open network face an idea-action tradeoff: Increases in the ability to generate innovative ideas might come at the cost of a decreased ability to implement them. By linking otherwise disconnected individuals, brokers are exposed to non-redundant information that can be recombined in novel ways. Those that are being brokered, however, may develop a belief that the broker is not “one of them,” thus triggering skepticism of the broker’s motives that can hinder brokers’ ability to get their ideas accepted. Integrating insights from cognitive social structures into structural holes theory, I argue that others’ perceptions of a focal actor’s brokerage opportunities constitute a critical contingency underlying network advantage. Using a multimethod approach—including a field study in a global consulting firm headquartered in the U.S. and a preregistered experiment—I find that individuals spanning structural holes perform better when their colleagues perceive them to have closed rather than open networks, and that trust is the underlying mechanism driving this effect."