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Keywords:

  • interpersonal networks;
  • organizational learning;
  • scale-free networks;
  • recombinant search;
  • exploration;
  • exploitation

The interpersonal network structure of an organization directly influences the diffusion and recombination of ideas and can thus facilitate or impede organizational learning. Most interpersonal networks have ‘hubs’—individuals who have significantly more connections than does the average member. This raises important questions about how hubs influence organizational learning outcomes. Does the presence of hubs improve or impair performance? What happens if hubs forget or misrepresent information that is transmitted through the network? Using simulation models, we find that moderately hubby networks outperform both very hubby and democratic networks.  We also find that moderate amounts of information omission or misrepresentation can be surprisingly beneficial to performance, though the patterns of their effects are strikingly different. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.