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Getting New Things DoneNetworks, Brokerage, and the Assembly of Innovative Action$
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David Obstfeld

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780804760508

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804760508.001.0001

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Brokerage in Action

Brokerage in Action

(p.19) 1 Brokerage in Action
Getting New Things Done

David Obstfeld

Stanford University Press

This chapter addresses social network structure and process to explain how brokerage functions to get new things done. First, innovative action is described as often unfolding in triads through brokerage. Second, the chapter explains how network structure sets the context for action, emphasizing the distinction between open and closed social network structures. Third, the chapter distinguishes between brokerage as action and brokerage as structure. Fourth, the chapter considers the brokerage process, first by defining it and then by proposing three fundamental brokerage orientations or behaviors: conduit, tertius gaudens, and tertius iungens. Finally, the chapter revisits Fligstein’s idea of social skill, or the ability to induce cooperation, to argue that inducing cooperation to get new things done is achieved by strategically combining the three brokerage orientations toward action.

Keywords:   brokerage, social networks, structural holes, brokerage process, tertius iungens, tertius gaudens, innovation, social skill

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