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Matthew S. Bothner

This article examines the effect of relative size on rates of firm growth. Although a number of prior studies have sought to pinpoint the effect of firm size on future growth, such efforts have been focused almost exclusively on absolute size, thereby neglecting the ways in which a firm’s scale advantages with respect to its competitors may independently determine its performance. This study extends recent work in network analysis, strategy and organizational ecology by developing a localized measure of relative size and showing that relative size has a strong positive effect on future growth, net of absolute size. Implications for future research are discussed.

Industrial and Corporate Change, 14 (2005): 617-638

Matthew S. Bothner, Toby E. Stuart, and Harrison C. White

This article examines the effects of status differentiation on the cohesion of a social structure. Using a formal model, we simulate the fates of a hypothetical cohort of newly hired employees, who are equals in the eyes of their boss and in the nascent stages of sorting into a status hierarchy. We cast these employees in a process in which they exert effort, receive public approval from the boss in exchange, and thus come to fill different places in a status order. We then consider the circumstances under which these workers cohere as a group and when, by contrast, differentiation makes cohesion among them unlikely. Our results show that the extent of the boss’s autonomy in relationship to employees accounts for this difference in outcomes. Under an autonomous boss, as differentiation transpires, status-based social forces break the group of workers apart. Conversely, when the boss occupies a compromised position, group-level cohesion coexists with differentiation. Our main contribution is the intuition that the cohesion-related consequences of status differentiation can substantially depend on the tie between contestants and their external audience. We conclude by developing conjectures for empirical research consistent with our main findings.

Journal of Mathematical Sociology, 28 (2004): 261-295

Matthew S. Bothner

When is a social actor most strongly influenced by its peers? This article addresses this question by clarifying when computer firms were most strongly affected by the choices of their structurally equiv- alent rivals to adopt a well-known technology: Intel’s sixth-gener- ation processor. The core hypothesis is that the effect of adoptions by structurally equivalent firms increases with the competitive pres- sure that a focal firm faces in its market position. The results show that a chosen firm is most strongly influenced by comparable others when it faces scale-based competition and is diversified. The im- plications of this study are twofold: a social actor’s sensitivity to the conduct of others may depend not only on its place in a hierarchy but also on the nature of its ties to an external audience; and a contingent theory of social influence may be necessary to charac- terize diffusion processes correctly, particularly when external and time-varying nonnetwork factors have significant effects.

American Journal of Sociology, 108 (2003): 1175–1210