A variety of social and economic arrangements exist to facilitate the exchange of goods, services, and information over gaps in social structure. Each of these arrangements bears some relationship to the idea of brokerage, but this brokerage is rarely like the pure and formal economic intermediation seen in some modern markets. Indeed, for reasons illuminated by existing sociological and economic models, brokerage is a fragile relationship. In this paper, we review the causes of instability in brokerage and identify three social mechanisms that can stabilize fragile brokerage relationships: social isolation, broker capture, and organizational grafting. Each of these mechanisms rests on the emergence or existence of supporting institutions. We suggest that organizational grafting may be the most stable and effective resolution to the tensions inherent in brokerage, but it is also the most institutionally demanding.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Issue number||SUPPL. 4|
|State||Published - Dec 27 2011|
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