Sub-theme 07: [SWG] Networks, Goals and Organizational Effectiveness: The Idea of ‘Network Management’
University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
University of Toronto, Canada
Olaf N. Rank
University of Freiburg, Germany
Call for Papers
Although organizational network research has moved far from the structural determinism that characterized early statements of the network perspective (Mayhew, 1980), the role of agency in networks – the abilities, skills and motivations of individual social actors to purposefully orchestrate the social structure that surrounds them and take advantage of their network ties – is still understudied (Emirbayer & Goodwin, 1994; Emirbayer & Mische, 1998). While prominent in the popular management literature (e.g., Aalbers & Dolfsma, 2015; Cross & Thomas, 2009), network agency and network management are still peripheral areas of inquiry in organisational network research (for notable exceptions, see Bensaou et al., 2014; Casciaro et al., 2014; Soda et al., 2017; Berthod et al., 2017). When agency is an intrinsic component of a network argument, as it is in structural-hole theory (Burt, 1992), it is often assumed to be operating, but rarely tested directly.
Consequently, we still lack a thorough understanding of how individuals and organisations can purposefully create network ties and network structures to achieve desired outcomes. Similarly, few scholars have attended to how organizational networks as a whole can be actively managed to reach individual and collective goals (Hoffmann, 2007; Provan & Kenis, 2008). In an effort to start filling these gaps, we look for research that investigates organisational actors’ attempts to actively manage networks, their creation, maintenance, and adaptation – both from the perspective of the individual actor and the network as a whole.
Possible topics for submissions include, but are not limited to, the following:
The interplay of formal and informal structure in organizations: how deliberate changes to organizational systems and processes can operate as mechanisms for altering organizational networks
Identification of structural properties of networks that should be purposefully designed to enhance individual and group effectiveness
The role of social tie content for network agency and management
The psychology of motivation as a precursor of network agency
Cultural and institutional mechanisms for network management
The dynamic interplay of structure and agency for goal attainment and performance
The role of network managers in shaping network processes and structures
As its overarching goal, the EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG 07) on “Multi-Level Network Research” aims to encourage micro, macro and multi-level theorizing in organizational network research. The great opportunity presented by multi-level approaches to network theories of organizations has only recently crystallized in organizational discourse (Moliterno & Mahony, 2011; Oh et al., 2006; Payne et al., 2011; Phelps et al., 2012). This gap presents organizational scholars with a still largely untapped opportunity. Theorizing about organizational networks at either the micro or the macro level obscures insights that can be garnered by integrating the two. Significant advances are possible with research that relates micro-level social processes to the emergence – or purposeful creation – of social structure at the macro level. Likewise, macro-structural processes can influence the creation, stability and evolution of interpersonal networks within and between organizations. Therefore, we particularly welcome submissions that take multi-level issues into account when investigating the idea of network management.
- Aalbers, R., & Dolfsma, W. (2015): Innovation Networks: Managing the Networked Organization. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.
- Bensaou, B. M., Galunic, C., & Jonczyk-Sédès, C. (2014): “Players and purists: Networking strategies and agency of service professionals.” Organization Science, 25 (1), 29–56.
- Berthod, O., Grothe-Hammer, M., Müller-Seitz, G., Raab, J., & Sydow, J. (2017): “From High-Reliability Organizations to High-Reliability Networks: The Dynamics of Network Governance in the Face of Emergency.” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 27 (2), 352–371.
- Burt, R.S. (1992): Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
- Casciaro, T., Gino, F., & Kouchaki, M. (2014): “The contaminating effects of building instrumental ties how networking can make us feel dirty.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 59 (4), 705–735.
- Cross, R.L., & Thomas, R.J. (2009): Driving Results Through Social Networks: How Top Organizations Leverage Networks for Performance and Growth. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Emirbayer, M., & Goodwin, J. (1994): “Network analysis, culture, and the problem of agency.” American Journal of Sociology, 99 (6), 1411–1454.
- Emirbayer, M., & Mische, A. (1998): “What is agency?” American Journal of Sociology, 103 (4), 962–1023.
- Hoffmann, W.H. (2007): “Strategies for managing a portfolio of alliances.” Strategic Management Journal, 28 (8), 827–856.
- Mayhew, B.H. (1980): “Structuralism versus individualism 1: Shadowboxing in the dark.” Social Forces, 59 (2), 335–375.
- Moliterno, T.P., & Mahony, D.M. (2011): “Network theory of organization: A multi-level approach.” Journal of Management, 37 (2), 443–467.
- Oh, H., Labianca, G., & Chung, M.-H. (2006): “A multi-level model of group social capital.” Academy of Management Review, 31 (3), 569–582.
- Payne, G.T., Moore, C.B., Griffis, S.E., & Autry, C.W. (2011): “Multi-level challenges and opportunities in social capital research.” Journal of Management, 37 (2), 491–520.
- Phelps, C., Heidl, R., & Wadhwa, A. (2012): “Knowledge, networks, and knowledge networks: A review and research agenda.” Journal of Management, 38 (4), 1115–1166.
- Provan, K.G., & Kenis, P. (2008): “Modes of network governance: Structure, management, and effectiveness.” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 18 (2), 229–252.
- Soda, G., Tortoriello, M., & Iorio, A. (2017): “Harvesting value from brokerage: Individual strategic orientation, structural holes, and performance.” Academy of Management Journal, 61 (3), 896–918.
Julia Brennecke is Senior Lecturer in Innovation and Knowledge Management at the University of Liverpool Management School, UK, and an adjunct researcher at the Centre for Transformative Innovation at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. Her research focuses on networks within and between organizations, with the aim of creating a better understanding of how and why network ties form, and exposing the consequences of network connections for innovation. Her work has been published in journals such as ‘Research Policy’, ‘Human Resource Management’, ‘Journal of Small Business Management’ and ‘Research in the Sociology of Organisations’.
Tiziana Casciaro is a Professor of Organizational Behavior and the Jim Fisher Professor in Leadership Development at the Rotman School of Management of the University of Toronto, Canada. Her research explores how structural and psychological forces jointly shape behavior in organizations. Her work on organizational networks, power dynamics, change implementation, and professional networking has appeared in ‘Administrative Science Quarterly’, ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Management Science’, ‘Organization Science’, and ‘Harvard Business Review’.
Olaf N. Rank is Professor and holds the Chair of Organization and Human Resource Management at Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, Germany. In addition, he is the Director of the Institute of Economics and Business Administration at the same university. Before joining the faculty in Freiburg, Olaf held academic positions at the University of Bern (Switzerland) and Georg-August-University Göttingen (Germany). His research focuses on the quantitative modeling of intra- and inter-organizational as well as multi-level organizational networks. Olaf has published his research in a wide range of highly recognized academic journals such as ‘Organization Science’, ‘Research Policy’, ‘Social Networks’, ‘International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing’, and the ‘International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing’.