In the pursuit of understanding how people behave in organisations, scholars frequently underscore the importance of relationships that they develop in the organisation.
Strong positive relationships are seen as providing trust that enables cooperation; they are seen as vehicles for influence and political behavior; and, they are conduits for information flow and innovation throughout the organisation. Simmel’s work suggests that this reliance on strong ties is misplaced.
In Simmel’s view, it is the triadic context in which the tie happens that makes a difference, not the tie itself. Krackhardt will discuss a decade’s worth of work on Simmelian ties to argue that much of the traditional research on networks in organisations leads to faulty reasoning and conclusions, because the theories do not account for these Simmelian ties.