Differential Impact of Directors’ Social and Financial Capital on Corporate Interlock Formation

Nicholas Harrigan and Matthew Bond

Bipartite Society: The Individual and the Group

The interdependence of the individual and the organization is an enduring theme in sociological thought. Cooley wrote that “man may be regarded as the point of intersection of an indefinite number of circles representing social groups, having as many arcs passing through him as there are groups” (1902/1964, 148). Simmel (1955) captured the tension between the individual and the organization when he defined two types of group affiliation: “organic membership,” where the organization is not chosen by the individual as an expression of his or her traits (e.g., as in the case of the family), and “rational membership,” where the organization is chosen as a conscious expression of the individual’s traits. For Simmel, the most important outcome of an individual’s affiliation to an organization was the constraint and socialization of the individual; an individual, he laments, “is determined sociologically in the sense that groups ‘intersect’ in his person by virtue of his affiliations with them” (150).

Social network analysis has developed a distinctive and highly systematic set of methods for representation, measurement, and (more recently) modeling of this interdependence called, variously, “membership networks,” “affiliation networks,” “bipartite networks,” and “two-mode networks” (Breiger, 1974; Robins & Alexander, 2004; Wang, Sharpe, Robins, & Pattison, 2009). The advantage of bipartite networks is that they preserve the dualistic structure of organization-individual relations, representing the network as ties between a set of individuals and a set of organizations. They avoid simplifying the relationships into the one-mode form of either a network of individuals or a network of organizations (see Chapter 10, Section 10.2, for more on bipartite networks).

We are deeply indebted to Eleina Ailmchandani, Christine Chen, and Isaac Chin for their heroic and patient research support for this chapter.

Corporate interlocks have been one of the most studied affiliation networks in sociology (Domhoff, 1967, 1970, 1978, 1998, 2009; Domhoff & Dye, 1987; Dooley, 1969; Emerson, 1962; Fitch & Oppenheimer, 1970; Koenig, Gogel, & Sonquist, 1979; Levine, 1972; Mace, 1971; Mills, 1956; Mintz & Schwartz, 1985; Mizruchi, 1982; Ornstein, 1984; Pfeffer & Salancik, 1978; Scott, 1997; Scott & Griff, 1984; Stearns & Mizruchi, 1986; Sweezy, 1953; Useem, 1984; Zeitlin, 1974; Zweigenhaft & Domhoff, 2006). Corporate interlocks are formed by the affiliation of directors of corporations to corporate boards of governance. The popularity of the study of corporate interlock networks stems from the data’s public nature and therefore its relative accessibility, and the importance of these networks of the governing boards of the largest economic actors in the private economy.

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