Research on organizational networks has increased dramatically in the last fifteen years (Borgatti & Foster, 2003). This is
exemplified by two special issues of the Academy of Management Journals on organizational networks in the 2000s, the two forthcoming special issues of Organization Science on organizational networks in the 2010s, and 38 papers on inter-and intraorganizational relations and networks in Organization Studies since the year 2000.
Furthermore, several journals have published review studies on organizational networks and relationships, which indicates
the relevance of the field. Relevant examples are Journal of Management (Provan et al.,2007; Phelps et al., 2012), Academy of Management Annals (Kilduff & Brass, 2010), Research in the Sociology of Organizations (Borgatti et al., 2014), and Public Management Review (Lecy et al., 2014).
Also, the continuously high number of submission to the EGOS Standing Working Group on organizational network research in
the last several years is evidence for that trend. One reason for the popularity is the wide variety of theoretical frameworks
that speak to inter- and intra-organizational ties and the networks functioning at different levels that emerge from such
ties. At the macro level, the study of organizational networks is relevant to institutional theory, resource dependence theory,
transactions costs economics, organizational ecology, and the resource based theory of the firm at a minimum. At the meso
and micro levels, organizational network research is relevant to the social psychology of groups, social exchange theory,
social cognition, the psychology of affect, and personality theory, and to mention but a few related lines of inquiry. In
addition, the framework speaks to scholars who are interested in for-profit, non-profit and public organizations as well as
interaction between organizations from all sectors. Little research crosses level boundaries and recent years have witnessed
stronger calls for multi-level designs both theoretically and empirically linking structure and processes at different organizational
levels (i.e., macro and micro) when investigating organizational networks (see, for example, Zaheer et al., 2010; Kilduff
& Brass, 2010).
The plethora of theories informed by organizational networks also presents a danger, however: namely, fragmentation, segregation
and consequently a lack of knowledge accumulation. To turn these potential dangers into an opportunity for higher-quality
research, we believe that it is important to provide an institutional forum for participants representing various disciplines,
theoretical orientations, and interests in networks at a variety of levels of analysis to exchange ideas and research results.
The specific goal of this SWG on Multi-Level Network Research is therefore to answer to this recent call in the
literature and to encourage micro-macro, multi-level theorizing in organizational network research. This is a new and exciting
research area, which was not addressed by previous versions of the Standing Working Group on Organizational Network Research
(in previous years, the following topics were addressed: Networks in Social and Technological Innovation; Organization and
Renewal of Organizational Networks; Bridging and Bridges in Organizational Networks; Emergence and Agency in Organizational
Networks). Our SWG also fits nicely developments in related fields like organizational psychology, where multi-level approaches
have gained ground (Klein & Kozloswki, 2000).
As already mentioned, the great opportunity presented by multi-level approaches to network theories of organizations has only
recently crystallized in organizational discourse. In the last few years, several analyses have underscored that, while social
network theory has been applied to organizational research across levels of analyses, and network constructs naturally lend
themselves to micro-macro theorizing, drawing such multi-level connections in network analyses of organizations has been far
less frequent (Labianca & Chung, 2006; Moliterno & Mahony 2011; Payne et al., 2011; Phelps et al., 2012).