Despite growing interest in delineating the social identity of Information Systems (IS) research and the network structures of its scholarly community, little is known about how the IS community network is shaped by individual conceptions and what motivates IS researchers to engage in research collaboration. Using an exploratory theoretical framework that is based on three dimensions of social capital theory, we examined 32 years of scientific co-authorship in an international IS researcher community. We formulated propositions to empirically examine the multi-level relationships between personal drivers and the resulting complex network organization of the IS community. Our propositions are refined with qualitative interviews and tested using a survey. This process revealed a collaborative research culture with several individual dispositions, including a strategic structural focus, a cognitive focus and a relational focus. These exist among actors displaying a range of differing behaviours such as active engagement and passive serendipity. Our study indicates individual differences at the conception stage of engaging in academic collaboration impact on the resulting network-level configuration. We identified that regional preference, maturity life cycles and lack of small-world properties highlight the important role of senior members as structural backbones and brokers within the IS community.