University of Cambridge > > Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) > Strong versus the weak: A meta-analysis of tie strength and individual effectiveness

Strong versus the weak: A meta-analysis of tie strength and individual effectiveness

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Several studies have demonstrated the utility of both strong and weak ties within one’s social network, which has resulted in a lack of consensus over which type of tie matters more. The present study takes a contingency approach to tie strength and identifies five factors that may explain these divergent set of findings. First, we propose that individual effectiveness outcomes range from proximal (e.g., access to information and knowledge etc.) to distal (e.g., promotions, getting a job, etc.) and that different tie strengths have unique effects on these outcomes. Our meta-analysis of twenty-six studies (n = 4487) finds that while strong ties facilitated one’s proximal effectiveness, weak ties enhanced one’s distal or eventual effectiveness. Second, the efficacy of the tie may dependent on the demographic composition of the sample. We found that strong ties were more potent in women-dominated samples when compared to mostly male samples. Third, the boundary of an individual’s network of ties may also impact their utility. Our analyses demonstrated that strong ties within the organization (internal labor markets) were more beneficial than weak ties, while weak ties mattered more in external markets. Fourth, the benefits of strong ties may be contingent on the formal position of the focal individual. We found that managers benefited more from strong ties. Finally, culture may play an important role as we found that strong ties were more potent in cultures with low uncertainty avoidance.

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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