Given the recent accumulation of research on inter-organizational relations and networks and the current fragmentation of the field, it is time to take stock and explore the achievements of, and future challenges for, this field of study. On the basis of a network analysis of the 158 articles on inter-organizational relations and networks that were published in four leading journals from 1980 to 1996, this paper empirically explores the linkages among, and configurations of, core theories and concepts underlying earlier empirical research on inter-organizational relations and networks. We identify core, as well as peripheral, areas of research interest in the field and point out areas of overlap and consolidation. Moreover, our empirical analysis shows that the field segments into four substantive research perspectives, namely social network, power and control, institutional, and institutional economics and strategy clusters. In sum, we suggest an innovative, empirically grounded approach towards a literature review that aims at a synopsis of a field of study and highlights possibly fruitful avenues for future research.
- Inter-organizational relations
- Literature review
- Network analysis