Skip to main content

Table 1 Common brokerage terms, features and motivations.

From: Bridges, brokers and boundary spanners in collaborative networks: a systematic review

Term Features Motivation Reference
Boundary spanner Bridges the structural hole between two clusters conceptualised as being separated by a boundary of some sort, e.g. outside the network or department To overcome a boundary and facilitate communication / knowledge flow across it. [17, 18]
Bridge Bridges the structural hole between two clusters To include outsiders in information flows or achieve coordination. [5, 19]
Broker Acts as an intermediary between two unlinked actors / clusters To facilitate some transaction, resolve a conflict or increase personal power or social capital. [18, 2022]
Broker in a Structural fold The broker is the common actor in two overlapping, cohesive clusters To be an engaged member of two groups. Tends to be disruptive as loyalties may be seen to be divided. [23]
Consultant / cosmopolitan / itinerant broker Links two alters in an outside cluster/s who are not directly linked To facilitate negotiations between alters or seek to exploit their separation. [21, 22]
Co-ordinator Links alters within their own cluster who are not linked directly To improve coordinated effort or to centralise knowledge exchange. [21, 22]
Gatekeeper Bridges the structural hole between their cluster and an outside cluster, controlling what information passes into or out of their cluster Often associated negatively with a hoarding of information, or positively bringing useful information / filtering out irrelevant information. [21, 22, 24]
Go-between Stands between two unlinked actors offering some service, e.g. facilitating access to advice, resources Usually facilitative but can result in work overload for actor or information bottlenecks. [25, 26]
Information or knowledge broker Keeps separate groups in a network co-ordinated or informed To improve network information flows and prevent fragmentation. [18]
Liaison Bridges the gap between two different outside clusters without having prior allegiance to either To facilitate negotiations between alters – often a commercial transaction. [21, 22]
Mediator / conflict resolver Seeks to increase understanding between two parties separated by a mismatch of knowledge, expectations, culture etc. To resolve conflict between parties - role often held by actor familiar with both sides. [15, 27, 28]
Peripheral specialist Holder of specialised knowledge that tends to occupy peripheral positions To be available for consultation yet still devote time to their specialty. [18]
Representative Bridges the gap between another actor from the same cluster and an actor from an outside cluster To facilitate external contact - may be a delegated negotiator. [21, 22]
Tertius gaudens (the third who enjoys) A brokerage strategy to keep alters apart To increase broker’s personal social capital or power. [5, 27]
Tertius iungens (the third who joins) A brokerage strategy to join alters together To increase network performance. [29, 30]