chapter  10
Entrepreneurs, Distrust, and Third Parties: A Strategic Look at the Dark Side of Dense Networks
WithRonald S. Burt
Pages 32

This chapter discusses the tension between two understandings of the role played by social networks in the distribution of information and control, and so resources, within markets and hierarchies. It presents illustrative evidence from words and phrases that senior managers use to explain why they have had so much trouble working with their most difficult colleague. Distrust is a strategic research site for distinguishing the theories. Under the brokerage principle in network theory, there is a competitive advantage to building certain relations: Resources flow disproportionately to people who provide indirect connections between otherwise disconnected groups. The network contains opportunities to build bridges between otherwise disconnected contacts. Managers in clique networks can be expected to have less experience with making sense of inconsistent interpretations of events, be more accustomed to relying on third-party interpretations of events, and so show more evidence of the amplified trust and distrust associated with third-party gossip.