We have just published a paper in Nature Scientific Reports, The Strength of the Strongest Ties in Collaborative Problem Solving (http://www.nature.com/srep/2014/140613/srep05277/full/srep05277.html).
The paper shows that networking does not improve team performance. We showed that for teams of knowledge workers, only their strongest ties (best friends or people you spend a lot of time with) had an effect on performance. None of the weaker, networking type ties, impacted performance. We also showed that a team’s strongest ties are the best predictor of how the team will perform. They predict performance better than any other factors we looked at such as the technical abilities of its members, how knowledgeable they are about the topic at hand, and even their personality. In fact, once you account for a team’s strongest ties none of these other factors matters.
When solving problems in a competitive environment, it does not matter what or how many people you know; the only thing that matters are your strongest ties.