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The hierarchy versus the social network; to support or to counteract? : An exploratory social network analysis on the creation and dynamics of tasks in an IT organization

Buitenhuis, K.L. (2019) The hierarchy versus the social network; to support or to counteract? : An exploratory social network analysis on the creation and dynamics of tasks in an IT organization.

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Abstract:The interaction of individuals and organizations create extended structures of interactions which are called a social network. By implicating these relationships, the passing/exertion of ideas, knowledge, and power within a social network becomes possible. This research aimed to investigate the emerge and communication of assignments and tasks in a social network from an IT organization by taking into consideration the dynamics of the existing social network to improve interaction between the different roles of system engineer, architect, product manager, and client manager. An online questionnaire with 10 questions was filled in by 18 employees to plot sociograms on the variables of assignments, ideas, plans, and social capital. Based on these sociograms, 10 participants were selected to interview regarding the process of task creation and the dynamics of the social network when executing these tasks. For the interviews, the two actors with the highest closeness centrality and betweenness centrality were selected based on their prominent position. Besides, the product manager, architect, and client manager were interviewed since these roles have different tasks. Two interviewees were selected based on their position on the edges of the social network to investigate the perspective from employees who are active at the edges of the social network. Further, interviewees were selected based on the mentioning of these actors in other interviews, to explore their role and position in the social network. It was found that the social network and informal process play a significant role in not only the arise of assignments, but in all processes within the organization. Assignments arise from client requests and team members who have ideas on how to improve the IT-service. It was found that the role of client manager, architect, and product manager do not play a main role in the process of assignments creations and execution as expected. To illustrate, the task of the architect of creating tasks was mainly covered by the team itself. Two other important actors were found in the social network with a significant betweenness centrality and closeness centrality for ideas and knowledge. Moreover, ideas and knowledge are shared informally in the social network. Significantly, the architect is not prominently involved in the social networks of idea-sharing and advice seeking. This is significant because the role of the architect is to provide assignments and direction to improve the IT-service. This study showed the relevance of social networks in organizations and provided insights on the interaction at the work floor compared to the hierarchical design. It is important to acknowledge these interactions in an organization. By doing so, these interactions can become a strength of the organization and can create an advantage. For this reason, the found results and recommendations can be used to improve the communication and process regarding the emerge of tasks and the dynamics of the social network in an organization. This research showed that it is important to find a balance between the formal and informal process since the hierarchy should support the interactions at the work floor and should not counteract them. However, it is important to stress that the informal process should not overrule since this might lead to a loss of control.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies BSc (56615)
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