NAVEL Gazing: Studying a Networked Scholarly Organization
Many North Americans now work in a global economy where corporations foster networked work – with employees participating in multiple teams and often for multiple purposes – and they do so in networked organizations – whose workers may be physically and organizationally dispersed. We analyze networked workers in one networked scholarly organization: the GRAND Network Centre of Excellence. Drawing on qualitative and social network data, we present our preliminary findings at the early stages of GRAND. Early discussions viewed networked organizations as the antithesis of traditional bureaucratic organizations and expected bureaucratic characteristics such as hierarchy, centralization and formalization to be absent and cross-boundary flows – the hallmark of networked organizations – to be prominent. Our research shows that reality is more complex than the early deductive expectations for networked organizations. The GRAND network is well positioned for cross-boundary flows but they are not yet extensive. In the distributed GRAND network, researchers communicate mostly via now-traditional email although in-person contact is almost as frequent. GRAND is designed with few formal hierarchical differences. Yet hierarchy matters when it comes to communication – researchers in higher positions have higher centrality in communication structures, both GRAND-wide and within projects, suggesting consistent advantages in their communication. Cross-disciplinary exchanges in GRAND are low at the network’s early stages, with little collaboration between Computer Science and Engineering, on the one hand, and Social Sciences and Humanities, on the other. Researchers in Arts and Technology emerge as the most active collaborators in the network both internally and externally. Work within provinces is still the norm.
KeywordsSocial Network Analysis Network Organization Closeness Centrality Formal Position Project Member
We thank GRAND for its support of its projects – and NAVEL in particular – and Lilia Smale for her editorial help.
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