How do distinct firm assets and behaviors shape the form of alliance networks and provoke their instability? A multi-level network analysis

Par Brigitte Gay

This study explores the relative contributions of large incumbent and small innovative firms in explaining the different structures and dynamics of interorganizational networks across multi-levels of analysis, egocentric, sectoral, and industrial. Empirically, we study alliance network evolution in the pharmaceutical industry and one of its major market segments, the antibody sector, from 2000 to 2007. Results show that small biotech and large pharmaceutical firms have opposite behavior and can both occupy central positions, though not at the same network level and for different durations. Key findings are that two distinct types of firms, with markedly dissimilar sizes and economic assets, shape the form and stability of alliance networks albeit each at a given level, industrial or sectoral. Consequently, network structure and stability are different at these different levels of aggregation.
JEL Codes: D85, L14, L16, L20, L24, L26


  • Multi-Level Networks
  • Heterogeneity
  • Network Dynamics
  • Structural Instability
  • Centrality
  • Incumbents
  • Small Firms
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