Skip to main content Accessibility help

Supple networks: Preferential attachment by diversity in nascent social graphs

  • JAMESON K. M. WATTS (a1) and KENNETH W. KOPUT (a1)


A preference for diversity has been identified as an important predictor of tie formation in certain networks, both social and organizational, that also exhibit a high degree of suppleness–the ability to retain their general form and character under stress (Durkheim, 1893/1997. The division of labor in society; Powell et al., 1996. Administrative Science Quarterly 116–145; Powell et al., 2005. American Journal of Sociology, 110(4), 1132–1205; Koput & Gutek, 2010. Gender stratification in the IT industry: Sex, status and social capital. Edward Elgar Publishing). Extant models of preferential attachment, based on popularity, similarity, and cohesion, meanwhile, produce exceedingly brittle networks (Albert et al., 2000. Nature, 406(6794), 378–382; Callaway et al., 2000. Physical Review Letters, 85(25), 5468–5471; Holme et al., 2002. Physical Review E, 65(2), 026107; Shore et al., 2013 Social Networks, 35(1), 116–123). A model of preferential attachment based on diversity is introduced and simulated, demonstrating that a preference for diversity can create a structure characterized by suppleness. This occurs because a preference for diversity promotes overlapping and redundant weak ties during the early stages of network formation.



Hide All
Albert, R., Jeong, H., & Barabási, A.-L. (2000). Error and attack tolerance of complex networks. Nature, 406 (6794), 378382.
Anderson, P., & Tushman, M. L. (1990). Technological discontinuities and dominant designs: A cyclical model of technological change. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35, 604633.
Baker, W. E., & Faulkner, R. R. (1993). The social organization of conspiracy: Illegal networks in the heavy electrical equipment industry. American Sociological Review, 58, 837860.
Barabási, A. L., & Albert, R. (1999). Emergence of scaling in random networks. Science, 286 (5439), 509512.
Bishop, M., Carvalho, M., Ford, R., & Mayron, L. M. (2011). Resilience is more than availability. Proceedings of the 2011 Workshop on New Security Paradigms Workshop, ACM, 95–104.
Blau, P. M. (1977). Inequality and heterogeneity: A primitive theory of social structure. Free Press New York.
Boland, W. A., Brucks, M., & Nielsen, J. H. (2012). The attribute carryover effect: What the “runner-up” option tells us about consumer choice processes. Journal of Consumer Research, 38 (5), 872885.
Boone, C., Witteloostuijn, A. V., & Carroll, G. R. (2002). Resource distributions and market partitioning: Dutch daily newspapers, 1968 to 1994. American Sociological Review, 67, 408431.
Borgatti, S. P. (2006). Identifying sets of key players in a social network. Computational & Mathematical Organization Theory, 12 (1), 2134.
Callaway, D. S., Newman, M. E. J., Strogatz, S. H., & Watts, D. J. (2000). Network robustness and fragility: Percolation on random graphs. Physical Review Letters, 85 (25), 54685471.
Carroll, G. R., & Swaminathan, A. (2000). Why the microbrewery movement? organizational dynamics of resource partitioning in the us brewing industry. American Journal of Sociology, 106 (3), 715762.
Clauset, A., Shalizi, C. R., & Newman, M. E. J. (2009). Power-law distributions in empirical data. SIAM Review, 51 (4), 661703.
Comte, A. (1852). Cour de philosophie positive volume 1, Borrani et Droz.
Durkheim, E. (1893/1997). The division of labor in society. Simon and Schuster (Original work published 1893).
Erdős, P., & Rényi, A. (1960). On the evolution of random graphs. Magyar Tud.Akad.Mat.Kutató Int.Közl, 5, 1761.
Fleming, L., Mingo, S., & Chen, D. (2007). Collaborative brokerage, generative creativity, and creative success. Administrative Science Quarterly, 52 (3), 443475.
Gibbs, J. P., & Martin, W. T. (1962). Urbanization, technology, and the division of labor: International patterns. American Sociological Review, 27, 667677.
Girvan, M., & Newman, M. E. J. (2002). Community structure in social and biological networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 99 (12), 78217826.
Granovetter, M. S. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78, 13601380.
Hannan, M. T., & Freeman, J. (1977). The population ecology of organizations. American Journal of Sociology, 82, 929964.
Hargadon, A., & Sutton, R. I. (1997). Technology brokering and innovation in a product development firm. Administrative Science Quarterly, 42, 716749.
Haveman, H. A. (1992). Between a rock and a hard place: Organizational change and performance under conditions of fundamental environmental transformation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 37, 4875.
Haveman, H. A., Russo, M. V., & Meyer, A. D. (2001). Organizational environments in flux: The impact of regulatory punctuations on organizational domains, ceo succession, and performance. Organization Science, 12 (3), 253273.
Herfindahl, O. C. (1950). Concentration in the Steel Industry. (Doctoral dissertation). Columbia University.
Holme, P. (2002). Edge overload breakdown in evolving networks. Physical Review E, 66 (3), 036119.
Holme, P. & Kim, B J. (2002). Growing scale-free networks with tunable clustering. Physical Review E, 65 (2), 026107.
Holme, P., Kim, B. J., Yoon, C. N., & Han, S. K. (2002). Attack vulnerability of complex networks. Physical Review E, 65 (5), 056109.
Klepper, S. (1996). Entry, exit, growth, and innovation over the product life cycle. The American Economic Review, 86, 562583.
Koput, K. W., & Gutek, B. A. (2010). Gender stratification in the IT industry: Sex, status and social capital. Edward Elgar Publishing.
Krackhardt, D. (1994). Graph theoretical dimensions of informal organizations. Computational Organization Theory, 89 (112), 123140.
Loch, C. H., & Huberman, B. A. (1999). A punctuated-equilibrium model of technology diffusion. Management Science, 45 (2), 160177.
March, J. G. (1991). Exploration and exploitation in organizational learning. Organization Science, (Special Issue: Organizational Learning: Papers in Honor of (and by) March, James G.), 2 (1), 7187.
McPherson, M., Smith-Lovin, L., & Cook, J. M. (2001). Birds of a feather: Homophily in social networks. Annual Review of Sociology, 27, 415444.
Onnela, J.-P., Saramäki, J., Hyvönen, J., Szabó, G., Lazer, D., Kaski, K., . . . Barabási, A.-L. (2007). Structure and tie strengths in mobile communication networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104 (18), 73327336.
Owen-Smith, J., Buhr, H., & Funk, R. J. (2014). Network portfolios and the authenticity premium: Market value across five high-technology sectors. Working paper. (Unpublished manuscript). University of Michigan.
Pachucki, M. A., & Breiger, R. L. (2010). Cultural holes: Beyond relationality in social networks and culture. Annual Review of Sociology, 36, 205224.
Powell, W. W., Koput, K. W. & Smith-Doerr, L. (1996). Interorganizational collaboration and the locus of innovation: Networks of learning in biotechnology. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41, 116145.
Powell, W. W., Koput, K. W., Smith-Doerr, L., & Owen-Smith, J. (1999). Network position and firm performance: Organizational returns to collaboration in the biotechnology industry. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 16 (1), 129159.
Powell, W. W., White, D. R., Koput, K. W. & Owen-Smith, J. (2005). Network dynamics and field evolution: The growth of interorganizational collaboration in the life sciences1. American Journal of Sociology, 110 (4), 11321205.
Shemtov, R. (2003). Social networks and sustained activism in local nimby campaigns. Sociological Forum, 18 (2) 215244.
Shore, J., Chu, C. J., & Bianchi, M. T. (2013). Power laws and fragility in flow networks. Social Networks, 35 (1), 116123.
Stinchcombe, A. L. (1965). Organizations and social structure. Handbook of organizations, 44 (2), 142193.
Taylor, V. (1989). Social movement continuity: The women's movement in abeyance. American Sociological Review, 54, 761775.
Tellis, G. J. (1988). Advertising exposure, loyalty, and brand purchase: A two-stage model of choice. Journal of Marketing Research, 25 (2), 134144.
Tiwana, A. (2008). Do bridging ties complement strong ties? An empirical examination of alliance ambidexterity. Strategic Management Journal, 29 (3), 251272.
Tushman, M. L., & Anderson, P. (1986). Technological discontinuities and organizational environments. Administrative Science Quarterly, 31, 439465.
Uzzi, B. (1997). Social structure and competition in interfirm networks: The paradox of embeddedness. Administrative Science Quarterly, 42, 3567.
Watts, D. J., & Strogatz, S. H. (1998). Collective dynamics of ‘small-world’ networks. Nature, 393 (6684), 440442.
Wimmer, A., & Lewis, K. (2010). Beyond and below racial homophily: Erg models of a friendship network documented on facebook1. American Journal of Sociology, 116 (2), 583642.


Supple networks: Preferential attachment by diversity in nascent social graphs

  • JAMESON K. M. WATTS (a1) and KENNETH W. KOPUT (a1)


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