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Economic Networks

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4998-6
180 pages
October 2012, Polity
Economic Networks (074564998X) cover image

Social relations are crucial for understanding diverse economic actions and a network perspective is central to that explanation. Simple exchanges involving money, labor, and commodities combine into complexly connected systems. Economic networks span many levels of analysis, from persons (consumers, employees), to groups (households, workteams), organizations (corporations, interest groups), populations (industries, markets) and the rapidly expanding global economic system.

David Knoke blends network theories from a range of disciplines and empirical studies of domestic and international economies to illuminate how economic activity is embedded in and constrained by social ties among economic actors. Social capital, in the form of connections to others holding valuable resources, is vital for finding a job, buying a car, creating a new industry, or triggering a global financial crisis. In nontechnical terms the author explicates the core network concepts, measures, and analysis methods behind these phenomena. The book also includes many striking network diagrams to provide visual insights into complex structural patterns.

This accessible book offers an invaluable critique for both undergraduate and graduate students in economic sociology and social network analysis courses who seek a better understanding of the multifaceted economic webs in which we are all entangled.

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List of Figures ix

Preface xi

1 Economics and Social Networks 1

Mainstream and Alternative Economic Theories 3

The Economic Sociology Perspective 13

The Social Network Perspective 21

Summary and Outline of the Book 24

2 Markets and Networks 25

Labor Markets 28

Consumer Markets 41

Producer Markets 56

Summary 64

3 Networks inside Organizations 66

Micro-Network Concepts 69

Social Capital 75

Forming Employee Networks 81

Network Outcomes 90

Team Networking 105

Summary 110

4 Networks among Organizations 111

Business Startup Networks 112

Business Groups 118

Interlocking Directorates 128

Strategic Alliances 131

Evolution of Interorganizational Networks 146

Summary 155

5 Global Networks 157

International Networks 158

Supply and Commodity Chains 163

World Cities Networks 165

A Transnational Capitalist Class? 171

Networks of the Global Financial Crisis 177

Summary 186

6 Looking Forward 187

Theory Construction 188

Empirical Tools 191

Connecting Economy and Polity 193

Appendix: Network Resources 197

References 200

Index 232

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David Knoke is professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota.
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  • Clear and accessible overview of how the economy functions through complex social networks
  • Blends classic and cutting-edge network theories from a range of disciplines with empirical studies and engaging examples
  • Spans many levels of analysis, from individual consumers, through workteams and interest groups, to the rapidly expanding global economic system
  • Essential reading for upper-level students of economic sociology
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Winner of the Choice award for Outstanding Academic Title



"Knoke very aptly illustrates the importance of networks in the economy and thus helps to make concrete contributions to economic sociology… The book is an excellent introduction … and would work well as a supplement for an introductory course in economic sociology and sociology of networks."
Lectures


"A masterful integration of numerous and diverseprojects pertaining to economic networks."
Sociologica


"Scholarship on the role of social networks in economic exchange has been growing at a fast clip, suffusing through several regions of sociology and even into economics itself. David Knoke performs a signal service in ordering and integrating diverse streams of research – at every level from individual economic choices to the structure of the global economy – in this comprehensive, sagacious, and highly readable volume."
Paul DiMaggio, Princeton University



"David Knoke brings his years of experience analyzing political networks to a broad review of network mechanisms in economic sociology. This is a useful text for anyone interested in a quick, literate, and insightful overview of the burgeoning research on the ways social networks shape economic phenomena."
Ronald Burt, University of Chicago Booth School of Business



"Having shown the power of the structural approach in both political (1990) and organizational (2001) settings, Dr. Knoke now turns his clear eye to the structural foundations of our economic system. Skillfully bridging levels of analysis from the embeddedness of employees to connectivity in the global system, this book provides a wonderful overview of how economic understanding requires networks. This clear and careful book will be an asset to scholars across the social sciences."
James Moody, Duke University

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