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  • Writer's pictureMatt Garris

How Networks Facilitate Environmental Response




The following post is adapted from my personal academic coursework.


How Networks Facilitate Environmental Response

Green stated that “Social networking in network organizations needs the connection of the people. Trust must be the guardian… …and respect be the guide.” He went on to observe that “most organizations are focused on profits instead of networking” and cited examples of how Hollywood and the music industry both missed the opportunity to invent streaming services and how book publishers missed the opportunity to invent the e-reader. Green noted that the difference between those organizations which succeeded and those which failed was their ability to respond to their environment and how networks assisted them in doing that.


Scott and Davis highlighted two ways that networks assist organizations in responding to their environments. First, Baker explained that network organizations are social networks which cross formal boundaries. Second, Miles and Snow explained that network organizations are governed by the market instead of traditional organizational structures. Scott and Davis summarized network organizations this way: “Social relations that cross formal boundaries are the essence of the network… [and] …market mechanisms mediate relationships among formal units.”


Implicit Coordination

Rausch et al. observed that “the efficiency of the information sharing mechanisms used by individuals during group decision processes determines to a large extent the fitness of the group decision.” As social constructs, networks may regularly utilize implicit coordination. Nawata et al. defined implicit coordination as “team members coordinating by predicting one another’s intent without engaging in linguistic or behavioral communication” and use the example of “passing a basketball to a team member without looking at him or her.”


Nawata et al. further discussed the importance of implicit coordination. Uncoordinated cooperation results in process loss, but coordinated cooperation is a force multiplier. Implicit coordination achieves these benefits without the inefficiency of explicit communication. While this may be difficult to achieve within organizational structures, networks are fertile ground for implicit cooperation because they are social relationships.


Essentially, networks with implicit coordination are more effective because their members understand one another better. Understanding is the foundation for success in many endeavors. Consider the importance of understanding in Proverbs 4 (NKJV): “Give attention to know understanding (Proverbs 4:1)…, …Get wisdom! Get understanding! (Proverbs 4:4)... …And in all your getting, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7).


Network Communication

Rausch et al. explained how “individuals apply information pooling to mitigate uncertainty and increase decision accuracy.” They explained that this process depends on how the network manages “the interaction structure and opinion sharing.” Rausch et al. identified sharing intelligence information and sharing opinions to achieve consensus as two occasions when network participants share information for collective decision-making.


This ability to keep the lines of communication open is vital to an organization’s success. Traditional organizational structures unwittingly shut down such communication, but networks are less likely to do so because market forces govern them instead of chains of command. Netflix is a popular example of a major company choosing to function more as a network and less with a traditional structure. Hastings and Reed explained the culture of candor at Netflix as follows: “At Netflix, it is tantamount to being disloyal to the company if you fail to speak up when you disagree with a colleague or have feedback that could be helpful. After all, you could help the business—but you are choosing not to.” Open, honest communication helps networks effectively respond to their environments.


Merida related the story of King Josiah receiving the book of the law from Hilkiah and Shaphan. How many high priests before Hilkiah had the same opportunity but did not act? One may think he was individually courageous. That may be true, but Shaphan’s cooperation and Josiah’s response indicate this was more than one man’s effort. Hilkiah and Shaphan were able to get information to King Josiah because they were part of a network which valued open and honest communication.

Conclusion

Gomez and Lazer explained that “diversity tends to generate more and better ideas in social settings.” They added that “mixing different individuals, ideas, and perspectives helps to identify new knowledge… [which comes from] …the various and distinctive ways we think about and interpret the world to solve problems.” Network organizations’ sharing of information and their ability to achieve implicit coordination contribute to their success. These characteristics make them more responsive to their environments and thus able to outperform traditional organizational structures.


References

Gomez, C. J. & Lazer, D. M. J. (2019). Clustering knowledge and dispersing abilities enhances collective problem solving in a network. Nature Communications, 10(1), 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12650-3



Hastings, R. & Meyer, E. (2020). No rules rules: Netflix and the culture of reinvention. Penguin Press.


Merida, T. (2015). Christ-centered exposition commentary: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Kings. B & H Publishing Group.


Nawata, K., Yamaguchi, H., & Aoshima, M. (2020). Team implicit coordination based on transactive memory systems. Team Performance Management, 26(7/8), 375-390. https://doi.org/10.1108/TPM-03-2020-0024



Rausch, I., Simoens, P., & Khaluf, Y. (2020). Adaptive foraging in dynamic environments using scale-free interaction networks. Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 7, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.3389/frobt.2020.00086


Scott, W. R. & Davis, G. F. (2016). Organizations and organizing: Rational, natural, and open system perspectives (6th ed.). Routledge.


The Holy Bible, New King James Version (1982). Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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