Dear Doug, Dear Sean,

Thank you for starting this interesting discussion. I would like to add to the list a book about working groups in organizations:

Holly Arow, Joseph E. McGrath & Jennifer L. Berdahl (2000) Small groups as complex systems. Formation, Coordination Development, and Adaption. Thousands Oaks, London, New Delhi: Sage Publications (ISBN 0-8039-7230-X)

The book includes a critical review of the field of small group research, and introduces the coordination network. A coordination network includes the coordination networks of a working group, i.e., the networks of all ties between members, tasks, and tools. As I interprete it, this network includes not only the social (member) network, but also two other one-mode networks (the tasks network and the tools network), and three two-mode networks (task-member, task-tools, member-tools). According to Arrow et al. external and global dynamics necessitate the group to adapt the coordination network.

I used these ideas for formulating a theory on (collective) performance of activist groups. I tried to predict failure of the group from the structure of the entire coordination network (which means that even as the social network seems to be ‘ideal’, the group might fail because one or more of the other five networks harbours problems). Because it could be expected from social movement theory that the performance of activist groups depends considerably on adaptation to external and global dynamics, I directed my study to the effects of incomplete adaptation of the coordination networks on failure. The idea is very simple: external and global dynamics often brings about units (members, tasks or resources) exiting or popping up, which imbalances the coordination network, urging groups to adapt. Because this seems so logical to do, and many scientific fields intersect here, I now feel as if I have somehow reinvented the wheel. Therefore, I am glad that you brought up the subject, and I’m eager to read all literature that comes up.

Chris Baerveldt


-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: Bergin, Sean [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Verzonden: maandag 21 oktober 2002 6:50
Aan: [log in to unmask]
Onderwerp: Re: business cases for SNA?


You are looking for the grail, and I sure hope you find it. In my searches and discussions with other SNA advocates it seems apparent there is a dearth of research into specific antecedents and consequences of SNA metrics with relation to organisational performance. This is a potential problem for us as a research many people asked me when I first entered the SNA domain..."OK, so you found these what".

Indeed I would like to propose that perhaps those who have an interest in this area from the SOCNET community may wish to send in refs they know of, and if there are none, then we could exchange suggestions about what SNA metrics might be related to organisational performance. I would be happy to do the collating if people want to send any references and suggestions to me, and I can post out the mass of results.

The biggest problem as I see it is that every organisation varies in what it is trying to do, and the processes that it develops and evolves. The network patterns that exist in an organisation are analogous to the forming of neural connections when an organism learns. From a learning perspective, the 'best' pattern is one which best suits the task...and the variation between organisations is so huge that generalisation of findings in any one domain is problematic. However some suggestions follow:

You may wish to contact Jim Coplien at UMIST...he has done some quantitative work on looking at SNA metrics across a large number of software development companies and has identified certain heuristics about patterns which he sees as indicative of good organisational performance. His email is [log in to unmask]  He has a book in progress which you may be able to get from him.

Also Kathleen Carley [log in to unmask] at Cargegie Mellon University has done a lot of work in modelling organisations with respect to structures and performance. You may find her work of use.

There is some general work in the management sciences are on the relationships between different organisational structures (i.e. hierarchies, matrix structures, anarchic structures, etc) and grouping (functional, geographical etc) and organisational performance in relation to different environments and industry types. SNA can offer avenues to assess the degree to which an organisation follows such patterns, and limited inferences could be made from such data I suppose.  

Some specific (at hand) references follow...relevance may vary:

Hope this is of some assistance.

If you find anything else useful please let me know.


Sean Bergin

Organisational Concepts
Theatre Command Analysis Branch
C2 Division

Room 2.G.50
Knowledge Systems Building
PO Box 1500, Edinburgh, SA, 5111
Ph.         (08) 8259 5494
Fax.       (08) 8259 5619
Mob.       0418 828 809
Email.    [log in to unmask]


-----Original Message-----
From: Doug Bryan [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Monday, 21 October 2002 12:20
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: business cases for SNA?

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I'm looking for references to or anecdotes of business cases for social
network analysis (SNA).  I'm familiar with research literature that
correlates social network properties with a wide variety of performance
characteristics -- everything from family planning uptake to high-tech
patents.  But are there any more direct, documented cases in the area of
organizational performace?  Something where organizational performace was
measured, SNA was applied and indicated changes were made, and then
organizational performance increased?

thanks much,

Doug Bryan
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