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Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition 1st Paperback Edition Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674843714
ISBN-10: 0674843711
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  • Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition
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Editorial Reviews

Review

The theoretical ideas in [Structural Holes] are bold, creative and parsimonious... there is superb handling of data. Both in his theorizing and in his methodology, in all brevity, Burt displays that rare quality which C. Wright Mills termed 'the sociological imagination'. (Richard Swedberg Acta Sociologica)

Structural Holes makes an important contribution to clarifying the connection between macrosociological and microsociological levels of analysis... By combining sociological theory and outstanding empirical research from different interaction contexts, Burt creates a model for sociological work in general. (Bernard Barber, Columbia University)

In this well-crafted and rich volume, Ronald Burt provides an integration of his previous network studies that makes a substantial contribution to research on the social structure of economic phenomena...The book succeeds on several levels. (Mark Shanley American Journal of Sociology)

Structural Holes proves that basic and applied research, micro and macro levels of analysis, and parsimonious and opulent theorizing are not mutual exclusions. (Barry Markovsky Contemporary Sociology)

A major contribution to structural sociology that will stimulate the imaginations of scholars in disciplines as diverse as sociology, economics, strategy, and marketing. (George M. Zinkhan Journal of Marketing)

Burt's Structural Holes is a milestone in the continuing development of structural sociology. It combines sophisticated theory, advanced quantitative methods, and application to problems of competitive analysis that demonstrate the value of a sociological perspective. (John Freeman, Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University)

A sociological masterwork of structural analysis distinguished in every aspect: theoretical, methodological, empirical. Bound to be a standard-setting book for years to come. (Robert K. Merton, Columbia University)

Structural Holes is an important book that works on many levels. It is a major contribution to economic and organizational sociology that will stimulate the imaginations of students of families, international politics, and individual personality as well; a work of extraordinary sophistication that is engaging enough to assign to master students; and a development of rational models of action that combines the elegance of game theory with the realism of network analysis. (Paul DiMaggio, Princeton University)

Structural Holes is to management what the X-ray was to medicine. Ron Burt has made visible what before could only be inferred: the hidden structure of the "informal organization." Those who gain the "sight" this book offers will have acquired an unprecedented power to lead. (Don Ronchi, organizational consultant)

Review

Structural Holes makes an important contribution to clarifying the connection between macrosociological and microsociological levels of analysis... By combining sociological theory and outstanding empirical research from different interaction contexts, Burt creates a model for sociological work in general.
--Bernard Barber, Columbia University --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1st Paperback Edition edition (August 11, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674843711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674843714
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"The Network Structure of Social Capital" by RonaldBurt at the U Chicago Graduate School of Business is one paper thatheld my attention. "Social capital" is a metaphor for the accumulated wealth built up in a personal network; better connected people have more social capital, and as a result they gain advantages in social situations. Burt's thesis is that social capital depends on not just the size of your social network, but also its nature and structure. Here's a brief summary.
If you're looking to get ahead, you should aim to build a circle of work and personal contacts that is broad and diverse. The more diverse your contacts, the more likely it is that you will find an opportunity through them. It's particularly important not to narrow your networking efforts to a single clique of all like-minded people who all know each other and don't mix much with others; maintaining such connections gets in the way of more productive efforts that bring in a steady mix of new faces.
When you have a network that gives you the opportunity to connect two widely diverse parts of an enterprise together, or when you can bring friends together who know you but don't know each other, you stand in the role of _gaudius tertius_, "the third who benefits". Even if you don't explicitly control the relationship (now I don't want to sound too mercenary here; remember, this is social science, not Emily Post) you will still benefit from the control of and access to flow between two elements that have been insulated from each other.
The pieces of an organization's or a population's network that don't communicate much are insulated by what Burt calls "Structural Holes" (the title of one of his books).
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Professor Ronald Burt's book "Structural Holes: the Social Structure of Competition", which was written in 1992, is a seminal publication and a must read for anyone interested in network theory. The book has an academic flavour but is well written, with many easy to understand examples.

Burt's central thesis is that structural holes in business networks are very important. A structural hole is a gap between two individuals. When the two are connected through a third individual important advantages accrue for the third individual, who may employ a tertius strategy.

Burt ascribes four signature qualities of competition to his structural hole argument (pp. 3-4) as follows:
* competition is a matter of relationships not player attributes;
* competition is a quality of emergent relationships;
* competition is a process, not just a result; and
* imperfect competition is a matter of freedom, not just power.

I find Burt's argument compelling, especially Given Burt's evidence and rich examples, which are expanded in his second book "Brokerage and Closure: An Introduction to Social Capital". I also find his argument on social capital to be compelling - Social Capital "is a thing owned jointly by the parties to a relationship. No one player has exclusive ownership rights to social capital"(p. 9).

The structural hole thesis uses competition and social capital to develop a theory of network structural autonomy, where an individual can consciously weave the network to advantage. Burt then provides a series of network measures which have since found their way into special computer programs such as UCINET and NetMiner 3 .

Even though the book is now over 15 years old I found much to interest me. I believe the book is a must read for serious knowledge practitioners and network analysts. For me at least, structural holes matter!

Regards, Graham
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Academic read, but very useful way to think about the value of information (connections are a good as the distance between) and how we all interact.
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