Friends or strangers? It all depends on context: A replication and extension of Beckman, Haunschild, and Phillips (2004)

Michael D. Howard, Michael C. Withers, Christina Matz Carnes, Amy Hillman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Research summary: The formation of interorganizational ties is a consequential phenomenon examined in strategic management research. Beckman, Haunschild, and Phillips (2004) is one of the first studies to comprehensively consider interorganizational network change by exploring factors that affect both alliance and board interlock formation. They find that firm-specific uncertainty relates to broadening actions, whereas market-level uncertainty causes firms to reinforce current structures. Our replication considers whether these relationships operate similarly in a differing temporal context. Building from the framework of the original study, we suggest our findings offer intriguing new empirical evidence highlighting the importance of time as a boundary condition in understanding embedded firm actions. Managerial summary: The development of interorganizational relationships, such as alliances and ties between boards of directors, has an important impact on innovation, strategic actions, and firm performance. This study examines whether the dynamics of interorganizational relationship formation remain consistent over time. We replicate earlier work by Beckman and colleagues (2004), but with an expanded data set covering more than 20 years. Over this broader time horizon, we find a shift in behavior, with companies facing firm-specific uncertainty seeking to reinforce their current relationships and companies facing industry-wide uncertainty seeking to diversify their risk by expanding their network. Our results demonstrate the importance of replication studies in research and contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the complexity surrounding interorganizational relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2222-2234
Number of pages13
JournalStrategic Management Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • interorganizational tie formation
  • replication
  • resource dependence
  • temporal context
  • uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management


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