Bringing Agency Back into Network Research: Constrained Agency and Network Action [chapter]

Ranjay Gulati, Sameer B. Srivastava
2014 Research in the Sociology of Organizations  
This article enriches the conception of agency that prevails in network research by proposing a framework of constrained agency. Our framework is grounded in the resources and motivations that actors draw on within their structurally constrained context. Structural positions influence the resources available to actors and color the motivations that shape their actions. At the same time resources equip actors to exert agency while motivations propel them to do so. Examining how specific
more » ... w specific resources are used when particular motivations are operative reveals ideal types of constrained agency. Within the wide range of actions that constrained agency can encompass, we focus on network action. We derive a typology of network actions and illustrate how the form of constrained agency through which a particular network action is taken can affect actors' ensuing structural positions and the nature of the constraints they subsequently face. We conclude by discussing how this conceptualization of constrained agency can help identify new sources of endogenous change in network structure and can serve as a guide for future empirical research.
doi:10.1108/s0733-558x(2014)0000040004 fatcat:wwuzkqjojbb2fcxloebn45ono4