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Abstract

This study examines how both strong and weak relationship groups (groups with numerous, intense internal friendship ties and few, less intense internal friendship ties respectively) achieve high performance when utilizing strategies that capitalize on the strengths and minimizing the weaknesses associated with their internal social structure. We examine the interactions of groups' internal friendship networks with their external network structures (external ties) and internal intragroup conflict (constructive controversy). The results of a study using survey, archival and interview data on 35 groups of MBA students indicated that internal friendship networks interacted with constructive controversy and external networks to determine when groups would achieve superior performance. High performing strong relationship groups engaged in greater constructive controversy than low performing strong relationship groups, while constructive controversy appeared to have minimal effect on the performance of weak relationship groups. High performing weak relationship groups had fewer external bridging ties to other groups when compared to low performing weak relationship groups, while external bridging ties appeared to have minimal effect on the performance of strong relationship groups. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.