When is brokerage negatively associated with economic benefits? Ethnic diversity, competition, and common-pool resources

Barnes, Michele, Kalberg, Kolter, Pan, Minling, and Leung, PingSun (2016) When is brokerage negatively associated with economic benefits? Ethnic diversity, competition, and common-pool resources. Social Networks, 45. pp. 55-65.

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There is a growing body of literature positively linking dimensions of social capital to economic benefits. Yet recent research also points to a potential "dark side" of social capital, where over-embeddedness in networks and the pressures associated with brokerage are hypothesized to constrain actors, having a negative effect on economic outcomes. This dichotomy suggests that context is important, yet the overwhelming majority of existing empirical evidence stems from socially homogenous populations in corporate and organizational settings, limiting a broader understanding of when and how context matters. We advance this discourse to a socially fragmented, ethnically diverse common-pool resource system where information is highly valuable and competition is fierce. Merging several unique datasets from Hawaii's pelagic tuna fishery, we find that network prominence, i.e., being well connected locally, has a significant, positive effect on economic productivity. In contrast, we find that brokerage, defined here as ties that bridge either structurally distinct or ethnically distinct groups, has a significant, negative effect. Taken together, our results provide empirical support to widespread claims of the value of information access in common-pool resource systems, yet suggest that in ethnically diverse, competitive environments, brokers may be penalized for sharing information across social divides. Our results thus contribute to an emerging theory on the fragile nature of brokerage that recognizes its potential perils and the importance of context.

Item ID: 43488
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0378-8733
Funders: Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (MAR/NOAA), University of Hawaii
Projects and Grants: MAR/NOAA Agreement NA11NMF4320128
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2016 02:25
FoR Codes: 38 ECONOMICS > 3801 Applied economics > 380105 Environment and resource economics @ 40%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441099 Sociology not elsewhere classified @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410406 Natural resource management @ 10%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 40%
83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830207 Wild Caught Tuna @ 20%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 40%
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