Reaching for Unique Resources: Structural Holes and Specialization in Scientific Collaboration Networks


On some fundamental level, we can think of scholars as actors possessing, or controlling, various types of resources. Collaboration in science is understood here as a process of pooling and exchanging such resources. We show how diversity of resources engaged in scientific collaboration is related to the structure of collaboration networks. We demonstrate that scholars within their personal networks simultaneously (1) diversify resources in collaboration ties surrounded by structural holes and (2) specialize resources in collaboration ties embedded in dense collaboration groups. These complementary mechanisms decrease individual efforts required to maintain effective collaborations in complex social settings. To this end, we develop a concept of “pairwise redundancy” capturing structural redundancy of ego’s neighbors vis-à-vis each other.

Journal of Social Structure