Networking paper retracted for “overlap” with author’s prior publication

jmanagementstudiesHere at Retraction Watch, we have a lot of fun exploring all the different kinds of science that cross our paths.

Some, though, we’re just not qualified to understand, like this retracted paper in the Journal of Management Studies, which according to the abstract “demonstrates that the persistence of brokerage positions decreases broker performance.”

What is clear is the retraction: the author already published the conclusion in a Japanese management journal in 2011.

Here’s the notice:

The following article from Journal of Management Studies, ‘Dynamics of Unclosed Triangles in Alliance Networks: Disappearance of Brokerage Positions and Performance Consequences’ published online on 14 February 2012 in Wiley Online Library (, has been retracted by agreement between the General Editors, Dries Faems and Bill Harley, and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. The retraction has been agreed due to overlap with previously published material in the Japanese Journal of Administrative Science article ‘Dynamics of Unclosed Triangles: Disappearance of Structural Holes in Alliance Networks’.

Here’s the abstract for the retracted paper:

We depart from previous research on brokerage advantages in interorganizational networks by shifting focus to the dynamics of brokerage positions. We investigate causes of the disappearance of these positions and its influence on organizational performance. Using a subnetwork consisting of a broker and its two partners as the unit of analysis, we postulate that the brokerage position disappears either when the two partners develop ties or when the ties between the broker and the partners dissolve. We predict that the patterns of interactions in which this subnetwork is embedded exert multilevel influences on the disappearance, and that embedded structures promoting persistence constrain brokerage advantages. Our analysis of codeshare alliance data in the global airline industry supports the theory and demonstrates that the persistence of brokerage positions decreases broker performance. The findings explain why brokerage positions rarely persist and why the persistence of brokerage positions does not benefit brokers.

And for the original one:

This paper explicates mechanisms in which network embeddedness causes the disappearance and persistence of structural holes in alliance networks. By using codeshare alliance data in global airline industry from 1994 to 2006, I find that triadic closures and bridge decays, two patterns of structural holes’ disappearances, occur with the increase of relational embeddedness and the decrease of indirect embeddedness. The findings also show that structural embeddedness increases the likelihood of triadic closures but decreases the likelihood of bridge decays. These results suggest that brokers can maintain structural holes by decreasing relational embeddedness or increasing indirect embeddedness.

We reached out to an editor for more information. The editor sent us a PDF of the retraction and said:

In our opinion, this statement provides all necessary information regarding the circumstances of retraction.

… all while cc’ing four other people, in classically efficient managerial style.

The paper has been cited once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, by an article in Tourism Management.

We’ve also contacted the author, and will update with anything we learn.

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