Steven Samford. 2017. “Networks, Brokerage, and State-Led Technology Diffusion in Small Industry.” American Journal of Sociology 122(5): 1339-70.

ABSTRACT: The concept of “embedded autonomy” speaks to the importance of coordination and bidirectional information exchange between Weberian bureaucrats and their private sector interlocutors. It has proven influential in the sociology of development, where it originated, and in the broader discipline. But the prospects for bidirectional information exchange depend upon the structure and nature of the private sector, which has been all but overlooked by the literature on embedded autonomy. This paper therefore encourages scholars to take private sector structure seriously by bringing existing network analytic methods to bear on the embedded autonomy debate. Specifically, I identify a tension between the requisites of information gathering, which is facilitated by nonredundant ties among actors, and information diffusion, which requires redundant ties; demonstrate how one Mexican agency has resolved this tension in assisting the upgrading of the artisanal ceramics sector; and conclude that the strategic filling of social network holes lies at the heart of effective bureaucrats’ efforts to promote development.

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