Dormant Ties:

The Value of Reconnecting


Daniel Z. Levin

Management and Global Business Dept.

Rutgers Business School – Newark and New Brunswick

Rutgers University

1 Washington Park

Newark, NJ 07102

Phone (973) 353-5983, Fax (973) 353-1664


Jorge Walter

Dept. of Strategic Management and Public Policy

School of Business

The George Washington University

2201 G Street, NW, Funger Hall 615

Washington, DC 20052

Tel: (202) 994-6677, Fax: (202) 994-8113


J. Keith Murnighan

Kellogg School of Management

Northwestern University

2001 Sheridan Rd

Evanston, IL 60208

Phone (847) 467-3566, Fax (847) 491-8896




Organization Science, Vol. 22, No. 4, July-August 2011, pp. 923-939



An earlier version of this paper appeared in the 2008 Best Papers Proceedings of the Academy of Management.


The social networks literature suggests that ties must be maintained to retain value. In contrast, we show that reconnecting dormant ties—former ties, now out of touch—can be extremely useful. Our research prompted Executive MBA students to consult their dormant contacts about an important work project; outcomes compared favorably to those of their current ties. In addition, reconnecting previously strong ties led to all of the four benefits that are usually associated with either weak ties (efficiency and novelty) or strong ties (trust and shared perspective). These findings suggest that dormant relationships—often overlooked or underutilized—can be a valuable source of knowledge and social capital.

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