Collaborative production networks among unequal actors

Manuel Muñoz-Herrera*, Jacob Dijkstra, Andreas Flache, Rafael Wittek

*Corresponding author for this work

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We develop a model of strategic network formation of collaborations to analyze the consequences of an understudied but consequential form of heterogeneity: differences between actors in the form of their production functions. We also address how this interacts with resource heterogeneity, as a way to measure the impact actors have as potential partners on a collaborative project. Some actors (e.g., start-up firms) may exhibit increasing returns to their investment into collaboration projects, while others (e.g., established firms) may face decreasing returns. Our model provides insights into how actor heterogeneity can help explain well-observed collaboration patterns. We show that if there is a direct relation between increasing returns and resources, start-ups exclude mature firms and networks become segregated by types of production function, portraying DOMINANT GROUP architectures. On the other hand, if there is an inverse relation between increasing returns and resources, networks portray CORE-PERIPHERY architectures, where the mature firms form a core and start-ups with low-resources link to them.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalNetwork Science
Issue number1
Early online date3-Jul-2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2021


  • collaboration
  • exchange
  • inequality
  • heterogeneity

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