Learning by association? Interorganizational networks and adaptation to environmental change

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A study of 230 private colleges over 16 turbulent years supports two arguments: (1) Strong ties to other organizations mitigate uncertainty and promote adaptation by increasing communication and information sharing. (2) Networks can promote social learning of adaptive responses, rather than other, less productive, forms of interorganizational imitation. Colleges that were members of smaller, older, and more homogeneous intercollegiate consortia were more likely to undertake fundamental curriculum changes. Colleges tended to imitate similar consortium partners that were performing well rather than larger and more prestigious partners. Implications for organizational adaptation and the growing network perspective within organization theory are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-643
Number of pages23
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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