Structural implications of reciprocal exchange: A power-dependence approach

Phillip Bonacich, Elisa Jayne Bienenstock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This paper presents and tests a general model to predict emergent exchange patterns and power differences in reciprocal exchange networks when individual actors follow the norm of reciprocity. With an interesting qualification, the experimental results reported here support the power-dependence approach (Emerson 1972a, b): those who acquire the most resources are connected to others who are dependent on them for rewards. Although, as Molm has abundantly demonstrated (1999, 2000, 2001, 2007), the quality of the relationship in negotiated and reciprocal exchange networks is quite different, and the details of a general model of network exchange might well differ for negotiated and reciprocal exchange, experimental results presented here indicate that power in networks, no matter how complex, is linked to dependence regardless of whether actors are motivated by rational choice or a norm of reciprocity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-240
Number of pages15
JournalSocial psychology quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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