15. Network Organizations and Transorg
SUMMARY of TD15: Network Organizations -There are four sections: 

1. Social Network Structures
2. Net organizing with Action Research & STS Nets- Rupe Chisholm's book
3. Social engineering Nets
4. Cyber War Games & paranoia -Hybrid  of TD1 cyberwar & TD2 postmodern cybernet critical review.

Similarities to other TD methods:
  • %  13. Spectacle, Festival, & Carnival
  • ¥  8. Frames: Aristotle, Burke, Clegg Goffman
  • a  4. SEAM
  • O 1. Community Organizing
  • 11. Restorying
  • [  9. Mythmaking
  • I  16. Critical Theory

Dissimilar to other TD Methods:

  • ?  7. Reengineering
  • {  6. Appreciative Inquiry

Intro to 4 Approaches:

  1. Social Network Structures
  2. Net organizing with Action Research & STS Nets- Rupe Chisholm's book
  3. Social engineering Nets
  4. Cyber War Games & paranoia -Hybrid  of TD1 cyberwar & TD2 postmodern cybernet critical review.

References to Cyber War

  main site http://web.nmsu.edu/~dboje/TDgameboard.html


ENRON Transorganizational Network


oops, you can't do Java
...but you can do aGIF image map

Figure 1: ENRON Transorganziaitonal Architecture  


You Can sort through the above Cast of Bush Characters and their relation to Enron characters below in Figure 4: Enron and White House Characters NOTE: Figure is Interactive - click on a CHARACTER to make them CENTER or on SCALE at left to play with DENSITY

1. Characters 1. Characters
2. Plots 2. Plots
3. Themes 3. Themes
4. Dialogs 4. Dialogs
5. Rhythms 5. Rhythms
6. Frames 6. Frames
7. Spectacles 7. Spectacles


A good next Enron analysis is NEGOPY "One of the oldest network analysis programs, NEGOPY finds cliques, liaisons, and isolates in networks having up to 1,000 members and 20,000 links. In use at over 100 universities and research centers around the world.

INTRO TO TD Network Organizing

Network organizing is challenging the hierarchies and markets approach of Williamson (1975). The basis for networks is cooperation, trust, and reciprocity whereas for markets it is free and supposedly open competition to minimize transaction cost and contracts to control for mistrust and managers' opportunism.  For Weber, the excuse for bureaucracy is its positional authority and division of labor to control for efficiency and professionalization of roles to control for mistrust of managers who would otherwise be coercive. Weber also saw in bureaucracy the iron cage. Networks of organizations organize, it is said, to gain economies of scale and to coordinate activities that affect their joint fate (i.e. cooperative research and development, joint insurance pools, supply chain management, etc.). Member firms form cooperative TD networks in order to get beyond the limitations of hierarchies and markets. They also form network organizations to change market dynamics, such as when artisans form networks to distribute their wares. What is less clear is how do networks evolve and what are network dynamics?  Do they becomes hierarchies or markets or are networks a mix of all these forms? Further, just how do organizations who may be bureaucratic, quest, chaos, or postmodern organize and coordinate their networking? (press here to see all four ideal types at once).  Network Organizations is a term to describe four popular approaches to TD. Without critical review, the first three TD network approaches can become the servant of the fourth, Cyberwar games. What Deleuze & Guattari (1987) term the War Machine.

I have added a paper to give Transorganizational Network Organizations some applications - "Chaos and Complexity in Supply Chain Transorganizational Development Networking"  {October  9, 1999e} (press here).
For more on Chaos/Complexity -- relation to -- Postmodern Theory (press here).

Approach 1: Social Network Structures
Approach One applies Social Network Structuration Theory to assess and in praxis change the centrality, density, and differentiation of a network of organizations. The Interorganizational architecture of Figure One. The focus of this network analysis is on the overall structure and interdependence of positions and constraints in the network.

Weak or Strong Ties? Granovetter (1993) has a theory of weak and strong social network ties that has implications for TD networks. For example #22 in Figure One has direct or indirect weak ties with three different clusters. Within each cluster there are strong ties.  To gain new ideas and contacts it is the weak ties that are more important than strong ties. Why? Because a weak tie, might for example, span very different clusters of strong relationships in various sectors of a network (See Figure One).  Burt (1982) continued developed the idea a bit further by looking at "structural holes" in the network.  Structural holes are defines as buffers between two non-redundant contacts. So there is a difference between a network of strong ties to similar others and one that has a lot of weak ties across many structural holes throughout a very diverse network.  More and better ideas comes from a variety of different information ties.  

Beyond the Architecture of Networks - The structural aspects of weak, strong, centrality or diffuse relations do not capture, for me, the most critical aspects of network. While it is important to look at how networks adapt and evolve over time it is equally important to look at process issues. For example, in Mythmaking, Meyer and Rowan (1977) argued that interorganizational relations (and networks) transfer institutional myths and rituals between complex organizations through imitation. See "Institutional organizations: Formal structure as myth and ceremony." American Journal of Sociology. 83: 929-984.  We therefore want to amend the structural approach to include processes of story networking:

NET-SIM and TD STORY NETWORKING - We need to be able to track the storytelling and symbolic interpretation process dynamics that occur in networks (See Ring & Van de Ven, 1994; Meyer & Rowan, 1977). Network relationships are built up over time, and have a history, that is more reciprocal and multi-faceted than simple market transactions. For example, Grace Ann Rosile and I are working with Michael Coombs at Physical Science Laboratory to tie TD studies of the domain content of storytelling and storytellers over time to NETWORK SIMULATIONS or what we call NET-SIM. In doing so we think it is possible to begin to marry ethnographic studies of network stories with dynamic displays of network patterns during a network TD intervention. While we can not show you NET-SIM - "Top Secret" we can give you a brief idea of what we have in mind. What is happening in simulation work?

NET-SIM will allow us to to collect multiple readings of a system change effort over time to give clients and
consultants and understanding of the on-going unfolding impact of their network change strategies. 

Embeddedness and TD Networking. The reason why storytelling and the history of relationships is so important to study is because of what Granovetter (1985, 1992) and Uzzi (1997), building upon the work done by Polanyi (1944) call "embeddedness." (Granovetter, 1985) argues that the embeddedness of collaboration is accounted for in wider institutional structures. The embeddedness of networks in the institutional, social and political contexts explains how the power of mutual obligations in networks is an alternative to market mechanisms. And to study it requires narrative and historical theory. Even among the most profit and greed-driven markets in capitalism, the social embeddedness of networking transforms organizational behavior. 

Why postmodern and Networking - Pescosolido and Rubin (2000) and White (1992) argue that while the rational choice theorists pursue the "embeddedness" theory, the postmodernists focus on "contextualization" i.e. how people experience the world of chaos.  

White (1992:287) argues that two myths characterize our culture and our social science-the myth of the person as free-standing entity, and the myth of society as an embracing whole. Ironically, at present, solutions at both intellectual extremes embrace the first myth and reject the second. Both the
postmodernists' focus on letting the "data speak for themselves" and the rational-choice theorists' focus on the individual's internal complex cost-benefit analysis celebrate the individual over the collective, even if the former focus emphasizes contextualization and the latter emphasizes embeddedness. They differ in why they do so, with the former focus seeing individuals' experiences as the only "real" subject of study in a chaotic world and the latter struggling valiantly to impose a rational order on social life and individuals' actions in that chaotic world. Both are important, but neither captures the complex interplay of context and behavior (Pescosolido and Rubin, 2000).

Postmodernists demand a deeper textual understanding of the nature and meaning of networking, while structuralist apply architectural metaphors and rational choice theorists modify market models with explanations of embeddedness.

Trust and TD Networking. Another key issue is trust.  The "existence of these trust relationships will mean that the individual or collective actions of the group differ from the behavior associated with either pure market-contracting or hierarchically organized relationships" (Gordon & McCann, 2000).  Trust and history are both important to study in networks because "socially embedded in the sense that these depend upon norms, institutions and sets of assumptions shared among a group of actors and are not, in themselves, simply the outcome of economic decisions" (Gordon & McCann, 2000). Networks, unlike markets, have their own rituals, norms, and stories.  Scott and Lane (2000) argue:

"Through embeddedness in this organizational community, people instantiate its values, outsiders are transformed to insiders, social entanglements and commitments are formed, and ingroup members reinforce each other's beliefs and participation." 

References in this section

Gordon, Ian R  & Philip McCann (2000) "Industrial clusters: Complexes, agglomeration and/or social networks?  Urban Studies.  Volume: 37 (3): 513-532. 

Granovetter, M. S. 1973. The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology 78:1360-80. 

Granovetter, M. (1985). Economic action and social structure: The problem of embeddedness. American Journal of Sociology, 91(3),481-510. 

Keeble, D. Lawson, C., Lawton Smith, H., Moore, B., and Wilkinson, F.. (1997) Internationalization processes, networking and local embeddedness in technology-intensive small firms, in M. RAM, D. DEAKINS and D. SMALLBONE (Eds) Small Firms.- Enterprising Futures, pp. 60-72. London: Paul Chapman. 

Pescosolido, Bernice A & Beth A Rubin (2000) "The web of group affiliations revisited: Social life, postmodernism, and sociology." American Sociological Review.   Volume:  65 (1): 52-77. 

Scott, Susanne G & Vicki R Lane (2000) "A stakeholder approach to organizational identity" 
Academy of Management. The Academy of Management Review.  Volume: 
25 (1): 43-62. 

Uzzi, Brian. (1997) "Social Structure and Competition in Interfirm Networks: The Paradox of Embeddedness." Administrative Science Quarterly 42:35-97. 


Approach 2: Network Organizations and STS Search Conferencing Chisholm applies his Action Research and STS background to the problem of Network Organizations. His approach uses the Search Conference we have reviewed in the Emery and Non-Emery approaches, as well as the Design Team approach of classical STS large system change. He relies a good deal on Emery's work here including Emery and Purser's (1996) The Search Conference. I was glad to see Trist (1983) work on the Referent Organization that to me was one of the pioneering TD theory pieces. Rupert works closely with Max Elden in the action research approach (see TD game board).

Powell (1990) also proposes a theory of network organizations, based on trust, reputation, and friendship, emerged in response to the
need for long-term interdependent organizational exchanges whose commodity values are not easily measured. In a study of Biotech firm networking, Powell et. al.(1996) found a 'sea of informal relations of knowledge exchanges' that embedded more formal relations. 

Approach 3: Social Reengineering Networks & Knowledge Revolution

Networking across organizations is also applied by many of the current Knowledge Work approaches. The work is rooted more the Tom Peters Seminar and Hammer Reengineering approach - see TD Gameboard.

Approach 4: The Network War Machine Among Organizations.
Tom Clancy's book Net War captures the military industrial complex mania for cyberspace war game consulting and information age warfare.  This the post-cold war strategic planning, counter-planning and dirty tricks industry and it is growing exponentially. IT consultants sell their TD skills to prevent transorganizational information from being infiltrated by the enemy or to disrupt and destroy an enemy's network. Tactics include (1) sending a virus to destroy enemy files, (2) disclosing a classified list of spy identities, (3) creating disinformation to fog enemy networking,(4) raids on information nets (e.g. "Experts argue plan to raid Milosevic’s bank accounts" - (press here) or (here), and (5) unleashing the butterfly of chaos to flap wings of havoc upon an enemy (e.g. posting a notice that the enemy is giving aware free arms so they are overloaded with calls that crash their system). Clancy presents the tactics of a SWAT squad of network techies to do network offense and defense with their hacking and combat skills.
Business Implications - Cyberwar threatens to disrupt the E-commerce of the Internet and the modern communications of banking and other industries. Security consulting for business is big business.  Consultants sell strategies for engaging and defending virtual conflicts.  The Internet is a driving force in the digital economy, disrupting it is bad business.

Research and Theory Critical of Cyberwar Genre of TD

 Books on Alternative 4: Cyber War and TD It would be great to see some evaluative studies contrasting these four very different ways of doing TD. They present very different epistemologies and world views of transorganizational network tactics and strategies. Critical postmodern theory provides some ways to deconstruct the Cyberwar narratives. Lest we sink into a Gibsonian Neuromacer or Bladerunner worldview of network development - D. Boje

 Press to return to TD TD Game Board or TD for a TD narrative.