Saying Hello and Waving Goodbye: Intra-Organizational Tie Formation in The Face of Collaborator Departure

Tracy Anderson, Bocconi University

Abstract: Indirect ties play an important role in the formation of new collaborative relationships. Yet we know little about how the mobility of such indirect ties changes the role that they play. In this paper, I explore how the organizational exit of common collaborators influences tie formation between previously unconnected workers. Whereas the exit of such collaborators may be expected to lessen the likelihood of workers forming a relationship, I argue that exiting common collaborators will in fact be more influential than remaining collaborators, as their exit will both create capacity for new collaborations and stimulate greater proactivity among those workers they leave behind. I explore the impact of common collaborators on tie formation using data on employees engaged in scientific research within a single organization. Using journal article co-authorship to identify collaborative ties, I find support for my argument. Furthermore, I show how the impact of exiting collaborators-in-common varies depending upon the type of exit, the relative rank of exiting collaborators, and tie strength. In so doing, this paper illuminates how the role played by indirect ties in the formation of new collaborations is shaped by the mobility of those indirect ties, extending our understanding of the dynamics of collaborative networks within organizational settings.