Resource Variation in Social Exchange Networks: the Effects of Duplicability And Transferability on the Use of Power
Committee ChairMolm, Linda D.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation presents a theory explaining how characteristics of the resources exchanged in networks influence the outcomes actors experience. I draw upon social exchange theory and social network research to identify valuable benefits provided by networks and relevant dimensions of resource variation. I identify control benefits and diversity benefits as important outcomes driven by network processes. Control benefits derive from exchanging at a favorable rate; diversity benefits are due to the variety of resources an actor receives through exchange. Both of these outcomes have structural foundations; thus actors' benefits are contingent upon their location in the network. I identify two dimensions of resource variation that alter whether resources can be used in multiple exchanges. Duplicability refers to whether a resource provider retains control of the resource and can use it in a subsequent exchange. Transferability refers to whether a resource recipient can utilize that resource in another exchange. Variation along these dimensions affects the mechanisms that produce benefits, such that the advantage of a position depends upon the type of resource exchanged. Hypotheses generated through this theoretical logic are tested in a laboratory experiment. Results provide strong support for the theory: Across the same network structure, resource variation alone produces fundamentally different distributions of control and diversity benefits. The theory successfully predicts how resource characteristics determine 1) variation in control benefits across relations, 2) ordering of diversity benefits across positions, and 3) the correlation of control and diversity benefits across resource types. Implications of these results for social exchange and social network theories are discussed.