Organizational Networks: Social Networks Within The Company
Informal professional relationships, those that overlap with those imposed by the formal structure of an organization, are decisive for collaboration, whether between people or teams, to be effective, efficient, and efficient.
Social Network Analysis techniques allow drawing the map of an organization’s social network, its nodes, the links that unite them, and the influencers that drive them.
The success of any organization depends closely on the people who form it. How they work together, that is, on the relationships that allow them to exchange information and knowledge, build trust and influence each other.
The configuration of these relationships determines the effectiveness of collaboration since access to resources and information, and the dissemination of new ideas depend on them. Thus, the framework of these professional relationships impacts the company’s success to such an extent that a correct configuration can increase the efficiency of the teams or even strengthen relationships with the client.
Organizations can be represented as the set of relationships that connect employees and groups in developing their activities within the organization. The connections between members shape different networks (communication, collaboration, etc.).
It is through participation in these networks that members of the organization create, interpret, and share information and knowledge. The structural characteristics, relationship patterns, and information flows among the members that make up the organization are shaped by its formal structure (official authority relationships over who supervises whom, predefined channels for obtaining resources, etc.) and by the structure that emerges from non-formalized interactions.
The formal organizational chart of the organization
On the one hand, the business processes are based on the formal organization chart, which is nothing more than the rational, explicit, and institutionalized description of the division of labor that consists, among others, of departments and hierarchies of control, supervision, and ordered action.
This formal organizational chart of the company is organized into non-overlapping functions that ensure the execution of the procedures that have been defined.
Informal organization chart
On the other hand, a parallel social organizational structure emerges thanks to sustained interactions over time, resulting from the connections between the members of the organization. This network of relationships and influences not foreseen by the rational design of the organization is what makes up its informal structure.
It is not surprising that improving effective collaboration is a priority objective for the managers of a company. In this sense, it is necessary to measure this collaboration in quantitative terms to diagnose the state of the same and implement, if necessary, possible improvements.
However, as we have explained, business processes are based on a paper in the “formal organization chart.” However, they are based on interactions not necessarily reflected in the organization chart.
Detection of internal networks in the organization
The collaboration between the company members arises as a response to the problems they have to face, revealing an informal organization chart where the work is carried out. Therefore, it is necessary not only to measure collaboration but to do it based on these real relationships between employees to discover where and how the activity occurs in business processes.
Social Network Analysis (SNA) techniques come to the rescue to detect and analyze these internal networks that operate in the organization, including concepts and specific analysis methods to extract valuable information from these organization maps.
Social Network Analysis studies the set of interactions (of different natures) between a group of individuals (what is called a “social network”). The phenomena that characterize these networks cannot be explained from the isolated study of their participants since the networks constitute “complex systems,” or in the words of Aristotle, they are systems where “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”
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