Does Competition Eliminate Social Ties?: The Case of the Russian Retail Market
Vadim Radaev 1  
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National Research University “Higher School of Economics”
Publication date: 2013-03-21
Polish Sociological Review 2013;181(1):63–86
Conventional economic theories assume that competing firms act independently. This theoretical assumption is applied to economic policies and anti-trust legislation. In contrast, economic sociology describes competition as a special type of social action that is oriented towards others. More specifically, to remain in the market, competing firms monitor one another and cooperate by establishing inter-organisational social ties. This paper demonstrates that increasing market pressures, including higher levels of competition and stronger bargaining power among exchange partners, does not disrupt social ties but promotes them. Data for the analysis were collected in 2007 from 501 managers of retail chains and their suppliers in five Russia’s cities (Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, and Tyumen). The sample includes firms of different sizes that operate in the food and electronics sectors of the consumer market.
This study was supported by the Program for Basic Research of the National Research University—Higher School of Economics. We benefit from the comments made on the draft of this paper by Svetlana Avdasheva, Zoya Kotelnikova, and Yakov Schukin.