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 Panel on

ŒMethodological Advances in the Study of Corporate Networksı Fracturing and

European Conference on Social Networks (EUSN) 2017, Mainz, Germany,
26-29 September
Eelke M. Heemskerk, University of Amsterdam, [log in to unmask]
<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Lasse F. Henriksen, Copenhagen Business School, [log in to unmask]
<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Session abstract:
For long corporate control has been organized in dense networks of
interlocking directorates and shared ownership. Such corporate networks
integrate corporate elites within the board of the most powerful companies,
in tightly knit Œinner circlesı. But at the turn of the century networks of
corporate control started to decline (Heemskerk 2007). More recently,
Mizruchi (2013) has argued that for the American corporate elite, the
structure of Œcommand and controlı in a highly concentrated, and thus
hierarchical, corporate network no longer exists and that the corporate
elite is now fractured. Chu and Davis (2016) register the ongoing thinning
of the US network of board interlocks and come to the sweeping conclusion
that Œthe findings of classic studies‹on elite socialization and class
consciousness, on political unity and pragmatism, and on corporate learning
and isomorphism‹no longer holdı. As a consequence, Œpreviously discovered
³facts² need reconfirmationı.
The fracturing thesis thus leads to pressing questions in scholarship. We
take the fracturing thesis and the conjectures of its proponents seriously
but also question the validity and generalizability of its claims. First of
all, the burgeoning research comparing the structure and function of
corporate networks in different countries and regions highlight the
difference in network trajectories (Scott 1991; Kogut 2012; David and
Westerhuis 2014). The relevance of the fracturing thesis may well be limited
to the US (Cárdenas 2016; Heemskerk, Fennema and Carroll 2016). Second, in
those places where corporate networks have been in decline it is indeed
essential to revisit previous scholarship on for instance political unity
and corporate learning. Different social structures may well foster elite
socialization and group consciousness, albeit in a different manner than
before. This is a particularly prominent question given the fundamental
changes in national and international politics we face today. And third,
there is growing evidence of concentration of corporate control in the hands
of a few actors such as through passive investment funds (Fichtner et al
2016) and to some extend sovereign states.
This panel aims to address these pressing issues concerning concentration or
fracturing. In particular it calls for papers that use novel methodological
and analytical techniques, fully exploring the potential we have today to
develop new answers to old questions, and generate new questions on the role
of corporate elites in todayıs global political economy.
Suggested topics:
Papers may be inspired by questions such as:
- How widely applicable is the corporate fracturing thesis, and what cases
provide support for it vs. contradicts it?
- How does a network process of fracturing vs concentration look when
detailed data is available to model it?
- What might explain fracturing and disintegration vs enduring concentration
and centralized control?
- What are the exogenous and endogenous mechanisms at play in driving
fracturing vs concentration?
- What techniques, models and visuals can help illuminate the underlying
mechanisms of fracturing and concentration?
- Retesting the findings of some key contributions in the corporate network
literature on its consequences, using novel techniques and methods.
Please note that this panel is distinct from the related general Œcorporate
networkı track proposal because of its clear topical focus. For any queries
we can be contacted on [log in to unmask] or [log in to unmask]
Eelke Heemskerk & Lasse Folke Henriksen

Abstract Submission Info
Deadline: March 31, 2017
Max number of words: 500
Paper FAQ:
Abstract Submission Form at CONVERIA

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