Skip to main content Accessibility help

Multilevel social spaces: The network dynamics of organizational fields



In this paper, we seek to advance an updated concept of social space that integrates the multilayer and dynamic statistical network methods currently at the disposal of social network researchers. We demonstrate the analytic value of the new concept of social space that we propose with the help of an illustrative analysis of an organizational field involving organizations' external and internal decisions that congeal into a multilevel system of action that shapes the space of possibilities for other participants in the field. Through these internal and external decisions, organizations seek certain positions in their social space while simultaneously modifying that social space over time. We conclude by arguing that network researchers' choices of goodness-of-fit statistics should reflect a consideration about the dimensions of social space of most interest to the nodes involved.



Hide All
Abbott, A. (1997). Of time and space: The contemporary relevance of the Chicago School. Social Forces, 75 (4), 11491182.
Batagelj, V., & Bren, M. (1995). Comparing resemblance measures. Journal of Classification, 12 (1), 7390.
Baum, J. A. C., Shipilov, A. V., & Rowley, T. J. (2003). Where do small worlds come from? Industrial and Corporate Change, 12 (4), 697725.
Baum, J. A., & Mezias, S. J. (1992). Localized competition and organizational failure in the Manhattan hotel industry, 1898-1990. Administrative Science Quarterly, 37 (4), 580604.
Block, P. (2015). Reciprocity, transitivity, and the mysterious three-cycle. Social Networks, 40, 163173.
Block, P., Stadtfeld, C., & Snijders, T. A. B. (Forthcoming). Forms of dependence: Comparing SAOMs and ERGMs from basic principles. Sociological Methods and Research.
Bosk, E. A., Veinot, T., & Iwashyna, T. J. (2011). Which patients, and where: A qualitative study of patient transfers from community hospitals. Medical Care, 49 (6), 592598.
Bourdieu, P. (1985). The social space and the genesis of groups. Theory and Society, 14 (6), 723744.
Bourdieu, P. (1989). Social space and symbolic power. Sociological Theory, 7 (1), 1425.
Brunson, J. C. (2015). Triadic analysis of affiliation networks. Network Science, 3 (4), 480508.
Carley, K. (1991). A theory of group stability. American Sociological Review, 56, 331354.
Carroll, G. (1985). Concentration and specialization: Dynamics of niche width in populations of organizations. American Journal of Sociology, 90 (6), 12621283.
Cohen, W., & Levinthal, D. A. (1990). Absorptive capacity: A new perspective on learning and innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35, 128152.
Cohen, W., & Levinthal, D. A. (1994). Fortune favors the prepared firm. Management Science, 40, 227251.
Conaldi, G., Tonellato, M., and Lomi, A. (2012). Dynamic Models of Affiliation and the Network Structure of Problem Solving in an Open Source Software Project. Organizational Research Methods, 15 (3), 385412.
Daraganova, G., Pattison, P., Koskinen, J., Mitchell, B., Bill, A., Watts, M., & Baum, S. (2012). Networks and geography: Modelling community network structures as the outcome of both spatial and network processes. Social Networks, 34 (1), 617.
Davis, J. A., & Leinhardt, S. (1972). The structure of positive interpersonal relations in small groups. In Berger, J. (Ed.), Sociological theories in progress, (Volume 2, pp. 218251). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Davis, G. F., Yoo, M., & Baker, W. E. (2003). The small world of the American corporate elite, 1982–2001. Strategic Organization, 1 (3), 301326.
DiMaggio, P. (1986). Structural analysis of organizational fields: A blockmodeling approach. Research in Organizational Behavior, 8, 335370.
DiMaggio, P. J., & Powell, W. W. (1983). The iron cage revisited. Institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields. American Sociological Review, 48, 147160.
Dixit, A. (1992). Investment and hysteresis. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 6 (1), 107132.
Feld, S. L. (1981). The focused organization of social ties. American Journal of Sociology, 86, 10151035.
Gittell, J. H. (2002). Coordinating mechanisms in care provider groups: Relational mediator and input uncertainty as a moderator of performance effects, Management Science, 48, 14081426.
Gluckman, M. (1955). The judicial process among the barotse of northern rhodesia. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Greve, H. (2005). Interorganizational learning and heterogeneous social structure. Organization Studies, 26, 10251047.
Hains, I. M., Marks, A., Georgiou, A., & Westbrook, J. I. (2011). Non-emergency patient transport: What are the quality and safety issues? A systematic review. International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 23 (1), 6875.
Haunschild, P. R., & Beckman, C. M. (1998). When do interlocks matter? Alternate sources of information and interlock influence. Administrative Science Quarterly, 43, 815844.
Holland, P. W., & Leinhardt, S. (1970). A method for detecting structure in sociometric data. American Journal Sociology, 70, 492513.
Hollway, J., & Koskinen, J. H. 2016. Multilevel bilateralism and multilateralism: states' bilateral and multilateral fisheries treaties and their secretariats. In Lazega, E. & Snijders, T. A. B. (Eds.), Multilevel Network Analysis for the Social Sciences (pp. 315332), Cham: Springer.
Iacobucci, D., & Wasserman, S. (1990). Social networks with two sets of actors. Psychometrika, 55, 707720.
Ingram, P., & Morris, M. W. (2007). Do people mix at mixers? Structure, homophily, and the “Life of the Party”. Administrative Science Quarterly, 52, 558585.
Iwashyna, T. J. (2012). The incomplete infrastructure for interhospital patient transfer. Critical Care Medicine, 40 (8), 24702478.
Iwashyna, T. J., & Courey, A. J. (2011). Guided transfer of critically ill patients: Where patients are transferred can be an informed choice. Current Opinion in Critical Care, 17, 641647.
Iwashyna, T. J., Christie, J. D., Moody, J., Kahn, J. M., & Asch, D. A. (2009). The structure of critical care transfer networks. Medical Care, 47, 787793.
Kivelä, M., Arenas, A., Barthelemy, M., Gleeson, J. P., Moreno, Y., & Porter, M. A. (2014). Multilayer networks, Journal of Complex Networks, 2 (3), 203271.
Kogut, B., Shan, W., & Walker, G. (1992). The make-or-cooperate decision in the context of an industry network. In Nohria, N., & Eccles, R. (Eds.), Networks and organisations: Structure, form and action (pp. 348365). Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Lazega, E., Jourda, M.-T., Mounier, L., & Stofer, R. (2008). Catching up with big fish in the big pond? Multi-level network analysis through linked design. Social Networks, 30, 159176.
Lee, B. Y., McGlone, S. M., Song, Y., Avery, T. R., Eubank, S., Chang, C.-C., . . . Huang, S. S. (2011). Social network analysis of patient sharing among hospitals in orange county, California. American Journal of Public Health, 4, 707713.
Lomi, A., & Pallotti, F. (2012). Relational collaboration among spatial multipoint competitors. Social Networks, 34, 101111.
Lomi, A., & Stadtfeld, C. (2014). Social networks and social settings. Developing a coevolutionary view. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 66 (1), 395415.
Lomi, A., Mascia, D., Vu, D. Q., Pallotti, F., Conaldi, G., & Iwashyna, T. J. (2014). Quality of care and interhospital collaboration: A study of patient transfers in Italy. Medical Care, 52, 407.
Lomi, A., Robins, G., & Tranmer, M. (2016). Introduction to multilevel social networks. Social Networks, 44, 266268.
Lospinoso, J. A. 2012. Statistical models for social network dynamics. Dissertation: University of Oxford.
Milewicz, K., Hollway, J., Peacock, C., & Snidal, D. (Forthcoming). Beyond trade: The expanding scope of the non-trade agenda in trade agreements. Journal of Conflict Resolution.
Milo, R., Shen-Orr, S., Itzkovitz, S., Kashtan, N., Chklovskii, D., & Alon, U. (2002). Network motifs: Simple building blocks of complex networks. Science, 298, 824827.
Mische, A., & Pattison, P. E. (2000). Composing a civic arena: Publics, projects, and social settings. Poetics, 27, 163194.
Mische, A., & White, H. (1998). Between conversation and situation: Public switching dynamics across network domains. Social Research, 65 (3), 695724.
Mitsuhashi, H., & Greve, H., (2009). A matching theory of alliance formation and organizational success: Complementarity and compatibility. Academy of Management Journal, 52 (5), 975995.
Mohr, J. W. (1994). Soldiers, mothers, tramps and others: Discourse roles in the 1907 New York City charity directory. Poetics, 22, 327357.
Moody, J. (1998). Matrix methods for calculating the triad census. Social Networks, 20, 291299.
Padgett, J., & Ansell, C. (1993). Robust action and the rise of the medici, 1400-1434. The American Journal of Sociology, 98 (6), 12591319.
Padgett, J., & Powell, W. (2012). The emergence of organizations and markets. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Pallotti, F., Tubaro, P., & Lomi, A. (2015). How far do network effects spill over? Evidence from an empirical study of performance differentials in interorganizational networks. European Management Review. (DOI: 10.1111/emre.12052).
Pattison, P. E., & Robins, G. L. (2002). Neighborhood-based models for social networks. Sociological Methodology, 32, 301337.
Pattison, P. E., & Robins, G. L. (2004). Building models for social space: Neighbourhood-based models for social networks and affiliation structures. Mathematics and Social Sciences, 42 (168), 1129.
Pina-Stranger, A., & Lazega, E. (2011). Bringing personalized ties back in: Their added value for biotech entrepreneurs and venture capitalists interorganizational networks. The Sociological Quarterly, 52 (2), 268292.
Ring, P. S., & Van de Ven, A. H. (1994). Developmental processes of cooperative interorganizational relationships. Academy of Management Review, 19, 90118.
Ripley, R. M., Snijders, T. A. B., Boda, Z., Vörös, A., & Preciado Lopez, P. (2015). Manual for RSiena. University of Oxford: Department of Statistics; Nuffield College. Retrieved from
Robinson, V., Goel, V., Macdonald, R. D., & Manuel, D. (2009). Inter-facility patient transfers in Ontario: Do you know what your local ambulance is being used for?. Health Policy, 4 (3), 5366.
Sethi, D., & Subramanian, S. (2014). When place and time matter: How to conduct safe inter-hospital transfer of patients. Saudi Journal of Anaesthesia, 8 (1), 104113.
Shipilov, A. V., & Li, S. X. (2010). The missing link: The effect of customers on the formation of relationships among producers in the multiplex triads. Organization Science, 23 (2), 472491.
Snijders, T. A. B. 2001. The statistical evaluation of social network dynamics. Sociological Methodology 31 (1), 361395.
Snijders, T. A. B. (2016). The multiple flavours of multilevel issues for networks. In Lazega, E., & Snijders, T. A. B. (Eds.), Multi-level network analysis for the social sciences: Theory, methods and applications (pp. 1546). Cham: Springer.
Snijders, T. A. B., & Stokman, F. N. (1987). Extensions of triad counts to networks with different subsets of points and testing underlying random graph distributions. Social Networks, 9, 249275.
Snijders, T. A. B., Van de Bunt, G. G. & Steglich, C. E. G. 2010. Introduction to stochastic actor-based models for network dynamics. Social Networks 32 (1), 4460.
Snijders, T. A. B., Lomi, A., & Torlo', V. J. (2013). A model for the multiplex dynamics of two-mode and one-mode networks, with an application to employment preference, friendship, and advice. Social Networks, 35, 265276.
Snijders, T. A. B., van de Bunt, G. G., & Steglich, C. E. G. (2010). Introduction to stochastic actor-based models for network dynamics. Social Networks, 32, 4460.
Sohn, M.-W. (2001). Distance and cosine measures of niche overlap. Social Networks, 23, 141165.
Stadtfeld, C., Mascia, D., Pallotti, F., & Lomi, A. (2016). Assimilation and differentiation: A multilevel perspective on organizational and network change. Social Networks, 44, 363374.
Steglich, C. E. G., Snijders, T. A. B., & Pearson, M. 2010. Dynamic networks and behavior: separating selection from influence. Sociological Methodology 40 (1), 329393.
Trapido, D. (2007). Competitive embeddedness and the emergence of interfirm cooperation. Social Forces, 86 (1), 165191.
Uzzi, B. (1996). The sources and consequences of embeddedness for the economic performance of organizations: The network effect. American Sociological Review, 61, 674698.
Veinot, T. C., Bosk, E. A., Unnikrishnan, K. P., & Iwashyna, T. J. (2012). Revenue, relationships and routines: The social organization of acute myocardial infarction patient transfers in the United States. Social Science & Medicine, 75, 18001810.
Verbrugge, L. M. (1979). Multiplexity in adult friendships. Social Forces, 57 (4), 12861309.
Wagner, J., Iwashyna, T. J., & Kahn, J. M. (2013). Reasons underlying interhospital transfers to an academic medical intensive care unit. Journal of Critical Care, 28 (2), 202208.
Wang, P., Robins, G., Pattison, P., & Lazega, E. (2013). Exponential random graph models for multilevel networks. Social Networks, 35, 96115.
Wasserman, S. (1977). Random directed graph distributions and the triad census in social networks. Journal of Mathematical Sociology, 5, 6186.
Wasserman, S., & Faust, K. (1994). Social network analysis: Methods and applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wasserman, S., & Iacobucci, D. (1991). Statistical modelling of one-mode and two-mode networks: Simultaneous analysis of graphs and bipartite graphs. British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology, 44, 1343.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Network Science
  • ISSN: 2050-1242
  • EISSN: 2050-1250
  • URL: /core/journals/network-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed