The Small Worlds of Corporate Governance

The Small Worlds of Corporate Governance

Edited by Bruce Kogut

An empirically rich study of the influence of social networks on corporate governance across countries and the emergence of a new transnational community.





An empirically rich study of the influence of social networks on corporate governance across countries and the emergence of a new transnational community.

The financial crisis of 2008 laid bare the hidden network of relationships in corporate governance: who owes what to whom, who will stand by whom in times of crisis, what governs the provision of credit when no one seems to have credit. This book maps the influence of these types of economic and social networks—communities of agents (people or firms) and the ties among them—on corporate behavior and governance. The empirically rich studies in the book are largely concerned with mechanisms for the emergence of governance networks rather than with what determines the best outcomes. The chapters identify “structural breaks”—privatization, for example, or globalization—and assess why powerful actors across countries behaved similarly or differently in terms of network properties and corporate governance.

The chapters examine, among other topics, the surprisingly heterogeneous network structures that contradict the common belief in a single Anglo-Saxon model; the variation in network trajectories among the formerly communist countries including China; signs of convergence in response to the common structural breaks in Europe; the growing structural power of women due to gains in gender diversity on corporate governance in Scandinavia; the “small world” of merger and acquisition activity in Germany and the United States; the properties of a global and transnational governance network; and application of agent-based models to understanding the emergence of governance.


$45.00 X ISBN: 9780262017275 408 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 57 figures, 56 tables


Bruce Kogut

Bruce Kogut is Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Professor of Leadership and Ethics and Director of the Sanford C. Bernstein Center for Leadership and Ethics at Columbia University. He is the author or editor of six books, includingThe Global Internet Economy (MIT Press, 2003) and Knowledge, Options, and Institutions.


  • This book is an impressive achievement, containing a staggering array of data, deftly handled by the authors.

    Administrative Science Quarterly


  • Adam Smith, meet network science. The role that ties among businesses play in governing collective corporate behavior has been the subject of scholarly attention since the birth of political economy. The Small Worlds of Corporate Governance brings 21st century analytic tools to understand the complex corporate global networks that drive the world economy. It is a landmark in the development of scientific methods to the study of the global political economy.

    David Lazer

    Associate Professor, Northeastern University; Director, Program on Networked Governance, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University

  • The question of who controls what in the world of corporate governance is one of immense economic and political significance, yet the data and tools required to answer the question—or even to frame it in a consistent way across countries and industries—have only recently begun to become available to social scientists. In this volume, Bruce Kogut et al. make an important start on the problem. I expect these essays to provoke a great deal of thought as well as new scholarship.

    Duncan Watts

    author of Small Worlds: The Dynamics of Networks Between Order and Randomness

  • This thought-provoking study demonstrates with impressive scholarship and originality how social networks revealed through ownership ties and interlocking directorates influence corporate governance. Based on an impressive collection and innovative analyses of data on 22 countries, Bruce Kogut and colleagues fills a gaping hole on governance and network studies by their explicit comparative methodology. The book will be of great value to scholars, students as well as policy makers who follow the field.

    Asli M. Colpan

    Graduate School of Management, Kyoto University

  • In this comprehensive, cross-national study, Bruce Kogut and his colleagues show that corporate governance is a deeply sociological phenomenon as well as an economic and legal one. Using the most up-to-date innovations in the field of social network analysis, the authors of this volume demonstrate, in both compelling prose and revealing graphics, the role of national and global corporate elites in the origins, maintenance, and historical trajectory of the international business community. Anyone with an interest in the role of the corporation in the contemporary world will want to read this book.

    Mark S. Mizruchi

    Professor of Sociology and Business Administration, University of Michigan

  • The new edited book by Bruce Kogut brilliantly brings together two sets of literature—corporate governance and network analysis—in such a way that significantly broadens the insights about the importance of institutional diversity across economies and the impact of the structure of networks on the behavior of actors. This is a truly original book that highlights the importance of causal complexity and context on the strategic evolution of companies and national economies.

    Michael Goyer

    Warwick Business School