Opening new brokerage opportunities while closing existing ones: The Tertius Iungens orientation as a source of network advantage

Olli-Pekka Kauppila*, Lorenzo Bizzi, David Obstfeld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Organizational members face a motivational dilemma in influencing the social relationships of others: The organization benefits from high connectedness among employees, but personal advantages accrue to those who occupy brokerage positions between disconnected others. In this study, we draw on the organizational paradox perspective to argue that the reconciliation of these contrasting objectives lies in recognizing one's agency to facilitate connectedness (closing) within a social structure and the search for new connections (opening) as mutually supportive. Across two field studies, we examine how individuals' advantageous position in an organizational network emerges from the interplay between a tertius iungens orientation to join others in collaboration and network building to open new brokering opportunities. In Study 1, analyses of a sample of two-wave, cross-lagged panel data show that a tertius iungens orientation contributes to the number of outgoing ties to other actors via network building. Study 2 uses a network survey to add that a tertius iungens orientation is positively associated with incoming ties from others and network brokerage, and again, these relationships are mediated by network building. Overall, our results indicate that by increasing connectedness in their organizational social network, individuals simultaneously activate opening behaviors that facilitate the expansion of their network, thereby revitalizing their structurally advantageous position.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 29.09.2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • brokering behavior
  • network advantage
  • network building
  • organizational paradox
  • organizing behavior
  • tertius iungens orientation


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