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Network influence and organizational performance: Empirical evidence from a longitudinal study of an Italian community of hospital organizations



Lomi A.


Pallotti F.



We propose a research project designed to address three related questions about the relation between interorganizational networks and organizational performance. The first question concerns processes of social influence: How do network structures in which organizations are embedded affect organizational outcomes of economic interest? This first question is important because extant research has found evidence that economic outcomes are significantly influenced by relations that organizations develop with partners, and with actual or potential competitors The second question concerns processes of social selection: How do organizations select their partners? This second question is important because if networks of partners influence individual behavior, then it matter greatly who these partners might be and how they are selected. It is possible, for example, that differences in performance between organization may be due at least in part to differential abilities to select valuable partners. The third questions arises as a logical consequence of the first two: how does similarity in individual performance affect the creation of network ties between organizations? This question is important because if similarity in performance (which is an outcome of social influence) forms the basis for change in network ties (which are antecedents of network structure) then a feedback relation exists that links social “structure” and individual “agency.” This project presented by the University of Lugano address these general issues in the specific empirical context of a field hospital organizations. In such context network ties between hospitals are induced by the stringent relational coordination requirements imposed by patient transfer decisions. Because of their status as organizations of public interest, hospitals are frequently conceived as part of a broader health care delivery system whose main goal is to contribute to a public good. As a consequence, hospitals frequently have to manage the tradeoff between autonomy and dependence. The organizational variable of interest, which we model as the target of social influence, is organizational performance measured in terms of two generally accepted indicators of hospital activity.The proposal outlined in this document must be understood as a sub-component of a broader European Collaborative Research Project in the Social Sciences (ECRP) – ECRP VI(2010) - involving six other research teams from the University of Oxford (UK), University of Groningen (The Netherlands), University of Örebro (Sweden), University of Turku (Finland), University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), and the University Autonomous of Barcelona (Spain). The global project is coordinated by Professor Tom A.B. Snijders (University of Oxford).The main objective of the overall European-level project is to explore the applicability of statistical models for the analysis of social networks to study social influence processes and to extend such models to the broadest possible variety of empirical settings. In order to achieve this objective, the project has to contribute to the development of a formal inferential framework and , at the same time, to the discovery of interesting applications. The main purpose of the sub-project proposed by the University of Lugano is to contribute to the development of statistical models for social influence processes by providing a meaningful and substantively important setting in which the relative analytical advantages of such models may be evaluated, and their empirical value assessed

Additional information

Start date
End date
38 Months
Funding sources
Swiss National Science Foundation / Project Funding / Humanities and social sciences (Division I)