Network effects on organizational decision-making: Blended social mechanisms and IPO withdrawal

Abstract This paper develops a new approach to the study of network effects in organizations and markets by proposing that structural influences on social and economic action result from contingent blends of well-understood social mechanisms. We emphasize the interplay of three different network processes: resource and information transfer, status signaling and certification, and social influence. Different mixes of these mechanisms characterize disparate networks because the obligations imposed by ties and the capacities of partners result in situations where mechanisms amplify or diminish one another. We test hypotheses about mechanism interactions using four years (1997–2000) of data on high-technology IPOs that situate organizational decisions about whether to withdraw an offering in two distinct networks. We find that network mechanisms exert multiple moderating effects on one another and that those effects vary systematically across venture capital syndicate and director interlock networks. These findings help to explain why different networks exert disparate effects, why the effects of some structures change as their larger contexts shift, and why even very successful organizations can sometimes find themselves hamstrung by their connections.