BISE – RESEARCH PAPER
Analysis of Informal Communication Networks – A Case Study
It is becoming more and more important for knowledge workers to increase their productivity. However, there is a general lack of (semi-)automated, IT-supported data collection and evaluation approaches that allow insights into the processes and structures of an enterprise’s internal networks and the activities of its knowledge workers. The article presents a prototype of an IT-supported instrument (“Social Badges”) that supports automatic collection of informal, personal interaction between (knowledge) workers within an enterprise. The authors’ aim is to introduce a novel approach which improves data quality ...view middle of the document...
2006; Mangelsdorf 2008; Ramírez and Nembhard 2004). It can be assumed that the way information is exchanged and distributed will have an influence on the relative productivity of groups and actors (Aral et al. 2006; Cross et al. 2003). The modern enterprise’s productivity, efficiency and the ability to innovate thus all require an efficient structure and culture with respect to the exchange of knowledge between employees (Cross and Parker 2004; Cross et al. 2003; Balkundi and Harrison 2006).
Dr. Peter A. Gloor
Center for Collective Intelligence Massachusetts Institute of Technology 77 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02139 USA firstname.lastname@example.org Received: 2008-05-01 Accepted: 2008-09-19 Accepted after three revisions by Prof. Dr. Buhl. This article is also available in German in print and via http://www.wirtschafts informatik.de: Fischbach K, Gloor PA, Schoder D (2008) Analyse informeller Kommunikationsnetzwerke am Beispiel einer Fallstudie. WIRTSCHAFTSINFORMATIK. doi: 10.1007/11576-0080124-x.
Knowledge is mainly exchange via informal, social communication networks whose structures often differ greatly from the enterprise’s organizational structure and workflows (Krackhardt and Hanson 1993). At the same time, these structures have a decisive influence on the ability of employees, workgroups and the whole enterprise to deliver superior performance as they determine how quickly information can be propagated across a network, or whether stake holding employees will be able to contact each other (Cross and Parker 2004). In this context Cross et al. (2003, p. 8) emphasize that “one of the most consistent findings in the social science literature is that whom you know often has a great deal to do with what you come to know”. Within this context the management of informal communication networks between enterprise staff becomes strategically significant (Davenport and Prusak 1998; Cross et al. 2003; Berglind and Scales 1987). Knowledge management focuses on those parts of the organizational processes that are regarded as shapeable. The aim is to strengthen organizational competencies at all levels of the enterprise by means of an effective and efficient approach to knowledge and to create an ecosystem that promotes spontaneous and efficient processes of exchange (Borgatti and Cross 2003). Although enterprises have invested more in projects designed to improve knowledge management in the past few
Business & Information Systems Engineering 2 | 2009
BISE – RESEARCH PAPER
years, there is still a lack of theoretical findings and proven approaches (Mangelsdorf 2008; Ramírez and Nembhard 2004; Malone et al. 2003; Aral et al. 2006). Various studies demonstrate that attempts to promote cooperation and communication in enterprises are not typically planned (Barrett et al. 2004; Davenport et al. 2002; Cross et al. 2005). Efforts to solve this problem face the challenge that informal communication networks are difficult to measure and monitor....